On MLK Day and Uncle Andy

by | Jan 13, 2024

Today seems like a good day to share this.

This is a picture of Ambassador Andrew Young and me in 2011.

Ambassador Young served as a top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta.

He’s also my Godfather, or as I affectionally call him, “Uncle Andy.”

After he served as Mayor of Atlanta, my father hired him to work as a Vice Chairman of Law Companies — at that time — a large engineering company. My dad was the Chairman & CEO.

They had been friends for years.

I grew up learning from Uncle Andy. I’d go to his house and fix his printer/camera/scanner. And we’d end up talking for hours.

Our families traveled the world together.

He used to tell me, “When you learn something, pass it on.”

Thirteen years ago, in 2010, we published this book together:

“Walk in My Shoes: Conversations Between a Civil Rights Legend and His Godson on the Journey Ahead” with a benevolent foreword from President Bill Clinton.

We never loved the title (grrr…publisher). I’ve since learned to push back on titles that I don’t love!

The message of the book is to walk in your OWN shoes.

I tried to turn my decades of conversations with this living legend into an inspirational memoir for generations to come.

My favorite points in the book:

1. It’s OK to stumble if/when you’re looking for your path.

2. Andy rejected his father’s desire for him to be a dentist.

In a provocative passage, he says when someone tells you do something that you don’t want to do, look them in the eye and say to yourself (not aloud) – “Take a hike!” (We use more colorful language in the book)

3. Young people were the catalysts for the civil rights movement. Before there was Rosa Parks there was teenager Claudette Colvin who wouldn’t yield to discrimination on the bus.

4. Uncle Andy doesn’t want to be a Good Samaritan. He wants to make sure there are rules and norms that he (and others) aren’t beat up in the first place.

5. My reluctance to speak about love. And his insistence to embrace and talk about the most personal topics. Sharing vulnerabilities is how we develop friendships and grow.

6. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Uncle Andy is always talking about the importance of bringing jobs to a community. That’s his universal peace plan. Get people to work together & build shared prosperity.

7. The importance of mentorship. Your mentor doesn’t have to famous. But it’s important to talk to elders, absorb their wisdom, and pass it on.

#MLKDay #MartinLutherKing #mentorship #portfoliocareer