Feb. 25, 2016 – Breaking barriers and using cultural differences as a strength paved the way for Houston and Atlanta to become cities with international interests, filmmaker Andrea Young said while visiting the University of Houston Law Center. A discussion comparing the rise of Atlanta and Houston followed the screening of “The Making of Modern Atlanta,” last week. The screening was in celebration of Black History Month.
Young, the documentary’s executive producer, is a professor of practice at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University and Scholar in Residence at Morehouse.
“With Atlanta and Houston being very diverse, sometimes you have to re-affirm the things that you did that were right,” Young said. “We have to continue to work at understanding each other. We have to realize is that embracing diversity is a critical part of our success. It has made for the growth and prosperity of communities. We have to keep getting better at it until we don’t have the inequality that we still see.”
Young is the daughter of noted diplomat and political leader Andrew Young. Andrew Young served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1977. From 1977 to 1979, he served as the 14th United States Ambassador to the United Nations, the first African-American to serve in that capacity. He was later elected the 55th mayor of Atlanta and served in that role from 1982 to 1990.
“It means a lot to me to tell this story because I grew up with it,” Young said. “This is the story of what I saw happening in Atlanta. Many people that I knew very well, but I didn’t know all of their stories. I had the opportunity to interview people who I knew for many years and really learn the depth of the leadership they had given to Atlanta and the depth of the contributions they made.”
Young said part of that leadership came from attorneys and the legal community.
“Lawyers and people in our profession have made an invaluable and incalculable contribution to the progression that we’ve made in civil rights,” Young said. “Without lawyers, we wouldn’t have had the legal framework for change.”
“The Making of Modern Atlanta” details how the city transformed from a segregated community into a metropolis with global reach. Young said the city was built on two pillars – transportation and tolerance.
“Transportation is key to our economic base,” Young said. “Tolerance is key to our human capital. We can attract the best people and provide a high quality of life because we have an aspiration to be a tolerant and open city. We called ourselves a city ‘too busy to hate.’”
Young is co-author of the book “Andrew Young and the Making of Modern Atlanta” to be published by Mercer University Press in the fall. She is an attorney with more than 30 years of engagement in advocacy and program development to promote civil and human rights and is a founding board member for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. She also authored “Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me” in 2000 and collaborated with Andrew Young on his memoir “An Easy Burden: Civil Rights and the Transformation of America” in 1996.
The screening was co-sponsored by several other University of Houston colleges including the African American Studies department, the Bauer College of Business, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, the College of Education and the Graduate College of Social Work.