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Andrew Young

Former Atlanta mayor; producer/co-writer, Rwanda Rising



Andrew Young, who in his 75 years has been a civil rights activist, Atlanta mayor and United Nations ambassador, now serves as the producer and co-writer of the documentary Rwanda Rising. The film, about the dramatic turnaround that country made after genocide, will screen during the National Black Arts Festival.

Staying positive: "The mood of the country right now is very negative, and everybody focuses on problems. But I focus on the problems in terms of a very resilient America. I can remember Pearl Harbor and the first atomic bomb, and I can remember the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement. All of those were crises that would have destroyed many civilizations, and yet America pulled together and we not only found solutions to those problems, but we used those solutions to lift ourselves up. So when I see problems, I see opportunities for a new future."

Darfur: "By focusing endlessly on human suffering, the media certainly dramatize that problem, but none of the attention does anything to end it. For instance, the solution to the situation in Darfur is for the government to recognize the 26 states that now exist in Sudan and to begin implementing a genuine federalism. It would probably require a general amnesty, however, and World Bank infrastructure commitments."

Iraq: "When I think of federalism, I also think of Iraq. There should have been some ... concrete plan for a federal government in Iraq, following the Nigerian model of dividing three geographic areas into 36 states with proactive funding and sharing of revenues."

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin: "Could the present range of Democratic candidates for president come up with a government reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln's? Lincoln was smart enough to appoint his political enemies to powerful posts within his administration, and the result was a level of unity the Democrats need, because neither partisan solutions nor personalities are capable of dealing with the serious problems confronting today's world."

Hillary Clinton: "We probably have never had a team who have had the wide variety of experience that Hillary and Bill Clinton have had. And that's probably what the world needs right now."

Audiobooks: "I like reading history, and since my eyes are weakening I have begun to depend more and more on my iPod and audiobooks. I can carry 20 big books in an iPod. And since I got my iPod at Christmas, I've been through 20 to 25 books."

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