Image of Andrew Young from Library of Congress (this public domain photograph is not part of the SHC's collections)
UNC’s Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) collects interviews with Southerners who have made significant contributions to a variety of fields and interviews that will render historically visible those whose experience is not reflected in traditional written sources. The Southern Historical Collection is the repository for oral histories collected by the SOHP.
The SOHP has digitized 500 interviews from the collection, through a project called Oral Histories of the American South. Periodically, “Southern Sources” will share links to audio of selected SOHP interviews.
Today, we are pleased to feature an SOHP interview with Andrew Young. Andrew Young was the first African American congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction. First elected in 1972, Young was later appointed as ambassador to the United Nations by Jimmy Carter.
In this SOHP interview, Young discusses the nature of racial discrimination in the South and describes his involvement in voter registration drives. Throughout the interview, he draws comparisons between race relations within southern states and those between the North and South. According to Young, it was access to political power that ultimately altered the tides of racial prejudice in the South. He cites the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a decisive turning point in race relations. For Young, it was the election of African Americans to positions of power that allowed African Americans to bring to fruition other advances they had made in education, business, and social standing.
This video also contains a montage of images, primarily taken from the holdings of the Southern Historical Collection. The SHC contains scattered documentation about the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and about the life and work of Reverend Charles M. Jones, including (but not limited to):
Southern Oral History Program (finding aid for collection #4007): Including these digitized interviews B-0010; A-0035; B-0041; and others not yet digitized.
We are very proud to be the repository for these important primary source materials documenting this often-forgotten episode of Southern history. However, we can’t help but notice that there are many missing pieces in the archival record that might tell the rest of the story. Could it be that there really is only one photograph of the 1947 freedom riders? What about documentation of the cab drivers and others who opposed the riders? We still have our work cut out for us.