- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (November 22, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0230114296
- ISBN-13: 978-0230114296
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 74 customer reviews
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- #2876 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Specific Demographics > Minority Studies
- #4753 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Civil Rights & Liberties
- #8243 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Sociology > Race Relations > Discrimination & Racism
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Walk in My Shoes: Conversations between a Civil Rights Legend and his Godson on the Journey Ahead Paperback – November 22, 2011
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“A motivating history and personal story about family, courage, and faith. Walk in My Shoes is filled with the wisdom, insight, and candor only experience could harness.” ―Newt Gingrich, former house speaker
“This brilliant, courageous, and intelligent man has stood for right and for Civil Rights for all people. In this book, we can follow the development of a young African American mind and the development of the movement which changed this country. He was brave, he was loving, and he was there. Thank God he lived to tell about it.” ―Maya Angelou
“This book re-affirms what all of Andrew Young's friends and colleagues have always known. Andy is a preacher. Every story, episode, illustration is in fact a sermon. And every reader will be instructed and inspired by Andy's wisdom and experience.” ―Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Senior Managing Director of Lazard
“Andrew Young and Kabir Sehgal open up their hearts with pitch-perfect sincerity. This is a fiercely inspiring cross-generational memoir filled with folk wisdom, human frailty, and sweet victory amongst the fangs of defeatism. Consider this book a joy.” ―Douglas Brinkley
“Andrew Young and Kabir Sehgal have woven together years of their candid and unvarnished conversations to create a wonderful combination of biography, memoir, and guide to life. This is an enlightening book that shows how great wisdom is passed down to new generations.” ―Walter Isaacson, president of The Aspen Institute
“Andrew Young witnessed the depths of modern times -- he saw us at our very worst, and yet he has written an intensely personal love letter to America. This is a love story -- love of country -- it's also a story about loss and regret, good and evil. Andrew Young was present at the creation of the movement that changed our country forever.” ―Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor, NBC Nightly News
“Andrew Young and Kabir Sehgal have produced a valuable book, one that offers timeless lessons of faith, love and leadership. The book illuminates the civil rights revolution of the 1960s and calls upon its readers--each in our own way --to carry on the work of building a more perfect America with courage and vision and humility.” ―Senator Joe Lieberman
“Filled with wisdom and political insight, Walk in My Shoes is graceful, yet sharp. Hip, yet respectful. It is a blueprint for future generations to speak openly and honestly with one another.” ―The Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta
“Working with Ambassador Young has taught me that we share more similarities than differences between our generations. The conversations with his Godson should remind us how important it is to combine what we have in common with our unique perspectives in order to change the community and the world.” ―Clifford "TI" Harris, Jr., Entertainer/Actor
“This is a great gift to America's children - now and in the future. Andy Young has perfect pitch when it comes to telling the great story of a civil rights crusade that is a hymn to courage, non violence and rule of law. He was there, every step of the way, and his reflections are deeply personal and historic. I am personally grateful for this important work.” ―Tom Brokaw
“Ambassador Young wears many hats, and in this book he takes on the role of Godfather speaking to his Godson. As I read it I can picture many of the conversations he and I had on the many trips I've taken with him to Africa. And having just an opportunity to walk with him on the continent of Africa showed me a different Africa and a different Andrew Young. For that I am eternally grateful. He is my friend, he is the world's friend and I hope that every emerging leader picks up this book as a reference for what it takes to change the world.” ―Chris Tucker, Actor, Comedian, Activist
“Engaging, raw, and impactful, this book should be a required reading for us all. Ambassador Young imparts wisdom on his God son with an organic humor and sensibility that can make you laugh and cry at the same time.” ―Jamie Foxx, Oscar-winning actor, Grammy-winning performer
“Andrew Young found himself at the intersection of history when the civil rights movement changed America's future by redeeming its past. Forty years later, a new generation, represented by Kabir Sehgal, sees another meeting with history approaching. What could be more valuable than learning from a man who has experienced what it means to forge inspiration in the crucible of conflict?” ―Deepak Chopra
“Wisdom can be found in many places. In Walk in My Shoes, a young man turns to his mentor Uncle Andy for guidance on faith, spirituality and love. Not only is this an innovative memoir, these pages are filled with irreverent honesty and timeless wisdom.” ―Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“I grew up right around the corner from Mayor Young, as we called Andrew Young then. He's always had vision and always shared his vision with the younger community. This type of leadership doesn't happen without considerations and conversations with the next generation, as we see in this inspiring and important book.” ―Aldrin "DJ Toomp" Davis, Grammy-winning producer
“Andrew Young is an American hero who has spent a lifetime leading by example. Walk in My Shoes, poignantly illustrates Ambassador Young's wisdom and devotion to others. In this book, the life lessons of a great man makes us all better.” ―Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments
“Walk in My Shoes is indicative of the distinctions and intersections between generations that offer both challenges and opportunities for all of us to communicate with one another in order to make the world a better place. This book probes those areas that we like to ignore regarding what it means to be a visionary, and what sacrifices have to be made in order to positively influence change. Steeped in a vulnerable narrative between two men, this is a bold and intelligent work.” ―Joycelyn A. Wilson, PhD. Scholar of Hip-Hop Studies, The HipHop2020 Curriculum Project, Morehouse College
“A fascinating glimpse into the life of one of America's most important activists....Lively and passionate.” ―Birmingham News
About the Author
Andrew Young is an American politician, diplomat, and pastor from Georgia who has served as mayor of Atlanta, a congressman, and United States ambassador to the United Nations. He also served as president of the National Council of Churches USA, and was a supporter and friend of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He lives in Atlanta, GA.
Kabir Sehgal works at JPMorgan in New York. He studied at Dartmouth College and the London School of Economics. Sehgal served as a special assistant to Senator Max Cleland and on the John Kerry presidential campaign. He is the author of Jazzocracy: Jazz, Democracy, and the Creation of a New American Mythology, which was featured on NPR. He lives in New York, NY.
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Here, most of his philosophy of life and his philosophy of success has been distilled down to its bare essence, into bite sized nuggets of wisdom, truths and some times mere truisms and questionable lore, all easily transmissible to the next generation. To wit: Follow your ideals not the money and fame; discover and listen to your inner voice; take baby steps towards your aspirations; the world doesn't change, it grows; favor the wisdom of life over the knowledge of facts; risking failure is part of the deal; and the most important one of all, you must start from where you are. These nuggets of wisdom (and many more) are given to his godson in the spirit of equals: that is to say in a "take it or leave it fashion." But Kabir makes it clear that he greatly admires and greatly values his godfather's advice. He realizes that it affords him a serious jump-start into a productive and meaningful life. We all wish we had had such an uncle.
I too grew up in the Civil rights era, learned the discipline of non-violence and participated actively in the change of that era. I had only one serious problem with Uncle Andy's advice.
As was true of all of us during that era, his unfortunately was the narrative of a "victim, forever overcoming his victimhood and victimization." Victory for him (as it once was for me) thus lay not in eradicating the evil of racism, (which should have been our real goal) but in achieving the status of "non-segregation." Need it be said that there is a huge difference between a state of "non-segregation" and a state of "racial equality and justice?" Did we in the Civil Rights era make a colossal, calculated and strategic blunder in settling for the much inferior goal of "non-segregation" rather than going for "full equality and justice?" Today, this very important distinction has been blurred: "non-segregation" has been equated with, and confused with full equality and justice in the contemporary American narrative.
What I have discovered in my old age (I will be 69 in August) is that the latter goal cannot be achieved by the Christian strategy of "failing to identify," or giving the "return address" of, or even pointing the finger at the evildoer, the enemy. But not to do so, while it may be morally self-righteous, is also to be cowardly complicent in the enemy's crimes.
I am not a Christian scholar (or even any longer a Christian) but I believe that this is a fatal flaw in the Christian's "turn the other cheek" philosophy of dealing with human power and social conflict. No matter what the Bible says, it doesn't work. To use Uncle Andy's language: It is BS. The evildoer (always a coward) simply gets a free pass, and is given the pass no less than by his own victim. Religious people tend to overlook this by giving "this dance of pre-emptive defeat" a cute well-rehearsed name such as "by the grace of God," "the power of forgiveness," etc. But history tells us that these are just accepted ecumenical niceties, religious word games that have nothing to do with the hard-nosed reality of racism. In fact no one can challenge the fact that it was the American Church that got into the game of "non-segregation (not even to mention "equality and justice") very late indeed (in fact, arguably only after seeing the handwriting on the wall?).
While it is true that some of us managed to escape through the ever narrowing and severely rationed loophole reserved in the gate just for us, the truth is that even today with a mulatto president, Dr. King's promissory note still gets stamped with the label "insufficient funds." Surely Uncle Andy did not fail to notice that today's "inner city schools" are still at least as segregated, and are now much, much worse than the segregated high school he attended in 1950s New Orleans?
Somehow no one will convince me that the enemy did not know that education was the only route to racial equality. Why else would it take 25 years before the first implementation of the 1954 Supreme Court Decision, and another 25 years to completely invalidate it? Today the schools in NY are as segregated as are those in Mississippi. Did the racists ever obey that 1954 edict? The available evidence of today says that they did not, but worked tirelessly against this law of the land, and did so from sea-to-shinning-sea. Nor indeed has Uncle Andy missed the fact that welfare coupled with neo-racism has virtually destroyed the Black family? Even with a mulatto president, a recent Brandis U. study claims that we are much worse off than we were before the Civil Rights era, and although Uncle Andy and I are doing okay, we somehow lucked out, the rest of our tribe is in a daily struggle trying to survive the socially-imposed economic and social melt-down. But worse, they have now reduced the value of equality, by increasing the circle of those who fit the N-word category. Yes there is more racial equality at the bottom of America's misery. But I doubt if that is what we had in mind in the 1960s. That outcome too in my view is a legacy of the strategic blunders of the Civil Rights era.
I may be wrong, but I believe that the avowedly religious approach of "turning the other cheek" has at least one identifiable strategic flaw: it allows the evildoer to escape unscathed. Under such a circumstance, the kind of cruelty that racism represents becomes cost-free. The evildoer can then simply regroup, recruit and multiply, refine his technique, and then bring forth an even more virulent, subtler but hardier strain of racism. I believe that in all of the hoopla about having a black president that is what we see today. What we have today is nothing more than a subtler more refined form of the racism perfected by the post-Civil war racists, still escaping under the radar and still under the banner of being ever-more tolerance and fair.
Kabir, please ask Uncle Andy about this, and email me his answer.
The relationship between Kabir and his uncle Andy is endearing yet challenging for each of them. You sense they grow into their relationship while learning from each other's perspectives. This only comes from the experience of having lengthy conversations that develop over time. Andrew Young has a wonderful ability to see the big picture on various things in life and shares this wisdom of his experiences with him in a sometimes humorous and candid way. Kabir Seghal, his Godson, in turn asks probing questions to pull out more of the story from him but in a very respectful way. Andrew Young is a great story teller and Kabir Seghall does a beautiful job capturing these wonderful moments. I'm sure this book is only the tip of the iceberg of stories Andrew Young could tell. Maybe yet another book could be on the horizon? I hope so.
For me, a 76 year-old African American female, observer and beneficiary of the struggles of Rev. King, Andrew Young and others in the civil rights movement, reading this book gave me an inside view of the motivations and thinking of Rev. King and of the forces at work throughout the struggle. Because Kabir Sehgal is an astute questioner, I could understand and appreciate Andy Young's contrarian views about politics and leadership. Also, Andy Young gives intriguing answers to Sehgal's questions about relationships: male to female, parent to child, and leaders to followers. The book is rich with insights into human motivations, ideas about solutions to current national problems and advice to young people seeking to change the world. Andy Young cautions the youth to have patience. He draws on the civil rights movement to illustrate the importance of taking time to plan and strategize before acting. The book is filled with examples that illustrate Young's truisms. To anyone from age 15 to 100, I recommend this book. It can be a guide to achieving one's goals. And it can help us all expand and enrich our perspective on making a positive contribution to the world.