Given that my hero and HOPE global spokesman civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young could not attend and speak at the Vancouver Canada inaugural Pan African Film Festival, I was honored to travel with my friend and RWANDA RISING director CB Hackworth to represent him (or try… – smile).
As I prepared to go to the festival, which was very nice and the reception around the film was extraordinary, I called Ambassador Young to register my reservations and concerns around "speaking in his place. I wanted to emphasize that NO ONE WANTED TO HEAR ME, they wanted to hear Andrew Young, who because of other pressing demands on his time was not now able to attend. I was looking for some sage advise as to what possible could be said, to keep folks from throwing things at, or otherwise escorting me off the stage as a bad substitute. Well, all Mr. Young had to say was "well, my friend Dr. (Martin Luther) King was sitting in a jail cell when he asked me to cover for him for two fundraisers for the movement. And back then $50 to $100 per ticket, which is what they were going for at gala events featuring Dr. King, was a lot of money — and they didn’t want to hear me either. But that was my baptism in public speaking…" I had to remind my friend and hero Mr. Young, that "this was no Dr. King, Andrew Young comparison, or conversation." This was just lonely old ME! We both had a good laugh, I went on to Vancouver…and survived. I think I represented the man reasonably well, but there is simply nothing like having him in person. Hopefully I don’t have to do this often (smile).
If you have not seen RWANDA RISING, it is something you and your family simply cannot miss. You can order copies online at Operation HOPE, with proceeds to benefit the Andrew Young Foundation.
John Hope Bryant