Gene C. Young,
(1951 — 2011)
CORE, Mississippi, 1963-64
Dateline Video Interview (Tom Brokaw ~ NBC) [Video]
Trial Set to Begin in Civil Rights-Era Murder Case (NPR) [Interview]
Dr. Gene Cornelius Young
Gene Young is the third of ten children born to Mrs. Beatrice Young and the late James I. Young and he is a graduate of William H. Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Young knew the late Medgar Wiley Evers and, twice, during the summer of 1963, Gene Young was arrested for his participation in civil rights demonstrations in Jackson, Mississippi. In The Ghosts of Mississippi: The Murder of Medgar Evers, The Trial of Byron de la Beckwith and the Haunting of the New South, (Little, Brown & Company, 1995), the writer Maryanne Vollers recounts an evening in 1963, when a twelve year-old, Gene Young stood in a chair to speak before a capacity audience at the Masonic Temple on John Roy Lynch Street, following his first arrest, just days before the assassination of Medgar Evers. Along with his older brothers, James and John, Gene Young attended the historic "March on Washington," where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous, "I Have A Dream" speech.
In June of 1964, the testimonies of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, Mr. Bob Moses, Gene Young, and others, regarding police brutality in Mississippi were placed in the Congressional Record of the United States House of Representatives. In July of 1964, Gene Young received national attention when he got a haircut in the barbershop of a Kansas City hotel shortly after the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In the closing chapter of her autobiography, Coming of Age in Mississippi, the authoress Anne Moody mentions Gene Young. In the summer of 1966, Gene Young participated in the Meredith March Against Fear, which included Hollywood stars, Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Tony Franciosa and other leaders in the fields of entertainment and human rights. During his senior year at Lanier High School, Dr. Young served as student government president and attended the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia.
Upon graduation from Lanier in June of 1968, Dr. Young was arrested in the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C. While a student a Jackson State University, Dr. Young was instrumental in organizing and coordinating demonstrations to protest the campus murders of Philip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green. The author, Tim Spofford mentions Gene Young in his book, Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State College (Kent State University Press, 1990). In 1971, Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander selected Gene Young and several other students to attend the first National Conference on Black Arts and Letters, hosted by Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois. In his memoirs, To Survive and Thrive: The Quest for a True University, (Town Square Books,Inc., 1995), Jackson State University President-Emeritus, Dr. John A. Peoples credits Gene Young for calming a crowd of students in the aftermath of the May, 1970 murders at Jackson State.
Dr. Young graduated with honors from Jackson State in 1972 and attended the University of Connecticut in Storrs, where he received, both, the Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees. During his graduate studies at the University of Connecticut, Gene Young was arrested in April of 1974 along with 200 other students in a library sit-in, protesting the teaching of theories of genetic inferiority. For six years, Dr. Gene Young served as the Director of the Black Studies Program at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where he developed and taught courses on the African-American experience. Upon returning to live in Mississipp, Dr. Young served as Chairperson for the Lanier Class of 1968 Twentieth Reunion Committee and, during the 1990-91 academic year, he served as the acting director of the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center at Jackson State University. Gene Young served as the chairperson for the May 15th Twentieth Anniversary Commemoration Committee, and over the years, he has spoken at the annual May 4th commemoration program at Kent State University in Ohio. Dr. Young was the keynote speaker at the 25th commemoration program at Jackson State University and he was featured in a May 5, 1995 article in the prestigious "Chronicle of Higher Education."
A former assistant professor of Speech and English, Dr. Young has worked in numerous academic and administrative positions at Jackson State University and in the Jackson community. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the West Jackson Community Development Corporation, a member of the Martin Luther King Holiday Commission for the State of Mississippi, the Medgar Evers Statue Fund, and the Board of the Alamo Theatre/Smith Robertson Museum. In 1991, Dr. Young served on the host committee for the 30th Anniversary Freedom Riders Conference and the national steering committee for the 1994 30th anniversary Freedom Summer Revisited Conference at Tougaloo College.
Dr. Young has two children, Joy Olivia and Julius Caza*, who are graduates of ADHIAMBO-The Learning Institute for Children and they accompanied him to the 30th Anniversay March on Washington in August of 1993. In October of 1995, Dr. Young chaperoned a group of Jackson State students to the "Million Man March" in Washington, D.C. In the spring of 1996, Dr. Gene Young was presented with a Gold Medal by the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters in the category of special programs, for his reading of excerpts from the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," on WJSU-FM on January 15, 1996. In February of 1996, Gene Young was Jackson State University's representative in a special edition of Black Excellence Magazine devoted to alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities who were active participants in the Civil Rights Movements.
On February 28, 2001, Dr. Gene Young spoke at the African-American History Program at the United States Department of Justice in Washington, and he was welcomed to the podium by former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft. On February 10, 2004, Dr. Young was presented with a resolution by the City Council of Jackson, Mississippi, citing him for his many contributions to Black History and human rights. On January 20, 2005, Dr. Gene Young was the keynote speaker for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky and he was featured the in the documentary, "Saving Our History: Voices of Civil Rights," which aired on the History Channel in February of 2005. Dr. Young was the guest speaker for the Omega Psi Phi Carter G. Woodson Scholarship Luncheon in Windsor, Connecticut in April of 2005 and he spoke at the 35th annual May 4th Commemoration Program at Kent State University in May of 2005.
Since the age of twelve, Gene Young has spoken to audiences throughout the United States.
* Julius Caza Young celebrated his twentieth birthday on October 1, 2002 and died in an automobile accident on October 3, 2002 in Boulder, Colorado. He was laid to rest next to his grandfather, James I. Young in Jackson, Mississippi on October 12, 2002.
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