During the turbulent 1960s, civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. devised a new and effective strategy to achieve equality for African Americans. Young blended interracial mediation with direct protest, demonstrating that these methods pursued together were the best tactics for achieving social, economic, and political change.
Militant Mediator is a powerful reassessment of this key and controversial figure in the civil rights movement. It is the first biography to explore in depth the influence Young's father, a civil rights leader in Kentucky, had on his son. Dickerson traces Young's swift rise to national prominence as a leader who could bridge the concerns of deprived blacks and powerful whites and mobilize the resources of the white America to battle the poverty and discrimination at the core of racial inequality. Alone among his civil rights colleagues -- Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, James Farmer, John Lewis, and James Forman -- Young built support from black and white constituencies.
As a National Urban League official in the Midwest and as a dean of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University during the 1940s and 1950s, Young developed a strategy of mediation and put it to work on a national level upon becoming the executive director of the League in 1961. Though he worked with powerful whites, Young also drew support from middle-and working-class blacks from religious, fraternal, civil rights, and educational organizations. As he navigated this middle ground, though, Young came under fire from both black nationalists and white conservatives.
"Provides a detailed narrative, closely grounded in extensive research, that extends our understanding of Young's life and career." -- American Historical Review
"A respectful but not hagiographic biography of an often undervalued civil rights leader." -- Booklist
"Dickerson's excellent biography establishes that Young was similarly successful in building support among blacks. This book is very readable and well documented, with 42 pages of notes and citations from dozens of interviews the author conducted with critical players in the Civil Rights Movement." -- Choice
"Certainly an important addition to our understanding of the Civil Rights era." -- Independent Publisher
"A well-researched work." -- Journal of Southern History
"A thoughtful study of an often overlooked figure in the American civil-rights movement." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Dickerson's portrait is carefully balanced, identifying Young's undeniable success in attracting corporate and foundation support for the NUL and his rise to national prominence as a spokesman for black civil rights, as well as the limitations inherent in any position so heavily dependent on the generosity of wealthy whites." -- MultiCultural Review
"Young was just 49 when he drowned on a trip to Nigeria. Today, a younger generation might not be aware of his contributions, so the publication of Militant Mediator is welcome." -- Lexington Herald-Leader
"Not only does Dickerson find Young uncompromising in his advocacy of a civil rights agenda but he holds that the mediating role that Young played was vital to the lasting accomplishments of better-known figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and James Farmer." -- New York Times Book Review
"A major revisionist interpretation of African American leader Whitney M. Young Jr.... will be the definitive work on Young for years to come." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society