Andrew J. Young (not related to Martin Luther King’s lieutenant and Southern Christian Leadership Conference member of the same name) was a civil rights activist in Seattle during the middle part of the twentieth century. A lawyer, Young first reached prominence when he served as the assistant state attorney general in Washington State.
Young’s experience with the law made him a well-qualified candidate to help lead the civil rights movement in Seattle in the late 1960s. In 1967 he was inaugurated as president of the Seattle branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Young’s legal skills were valuable to the NAACP at a time when much of the branch’s work involved defending all the people who had been arrested during protest marches of the 1960s.
On October 8, 1966 Young was elected chairman of the Central Area Civil Rights Committee (CACRC), a coalition of civil rights and religious groups in Seattle that for several years was considered the “voice” of the civil rights movement in the city. Young called for “stability, community effort, and mature thinking” within Seattle’s black population at a time when many local African Americans were turning to black power and more aggressive challenges of the racial status quo. Despite the growing popularity of black power Young remained a proponent of community collaboration and opposed factionalism, which he felt was slowly threatening to crack the local interracial civil rights coalition. Despite Young’s wishes for the direction of the movement, the power of the CACRC crumbled in the late 1960s as black power advocates came to dominate the face of the black community.
Quintard Taylor. The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994); “Attorney Named to Head Central-Area Committee.” Seattle Times, 9 October 1968; Mary T. Henry. “NAACP, Seattle Branch.” www.HistoryLink.org , 14 January, 1999.