Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
It was a spirited but even more a sentimental Andrew Young who stood before the NAACP Legal Defense Fund dinner Monday night and explained why he does the things he does.
"I very simply want to try to spell it out for you," Young, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, began. And although young concentrated on the way civil rights lawyers both supported and saved him during rough times in his life, Young's reputation as an outspoken diplomat who is often apologizing or being clarified wasn't far from his mind.
"The experience of doing what you think should be right requires some anguish and sacrifice. But especially when you look back on the past (referring to the contributions of civil rights workers) it's a little price to pay," said Young.
Later, as Young raced out the front door of the Shoreham-American Hotel to his waiting limousine, he explained, "Well, the criticism and misintepretation does bother me. I do lose a lot of sleep. Everybody wants to be understood. I don't want people thinking I'm a radical idiot."
In his remarks, which lasted only 20 minutes because Young had to make a 9:30 p.m. plane back to New York City, the ambassador said, as he has in the past, that he has the support and encouragment from the White House.
"The President has encouraged me to discuss things . . . It's amazing that he has known instinctively what I was trying to say even when the press reported something different," said Young, who several times during the evening criticized the media.
While in conversation with Young, Drew Days 111, the new assistant attorney general for civil rights, said, "I don't mean to disparage the press." Young laughed as he stage-whispered "Go ahead. Go ahead. Help yourself."
Young later said he was kidding but added, "I remember the days when no one in the media ever listened to a black saying anything at hand to help American people face foreign policy issues they don't want to face."
Indirectly Young was asking for support of the approach he has taken in his new career. Howard Jenkins, a member of the National labor Relations Board, commented, "Every new U.N. representative has gone through a shakedown period when he adopts his style to the job functions.I think Andy Young is doing a credible job. He's receiving no more criticism than any other black who occupied a position of influence as a first-timer. Part of the system is that whenever a black is in that position he gets snipped."
In the four decades the Legal Defense Fund has existed it has become one of the leading insititutions working to end racial discrimination through the law. The annual dinner of the Washington Committee, which this year hopes to raise $100,000, is one of the most important fund-raisers.
Among the 650 guests, who included many of the city's best-known civil rights attorneys, was Charles Rhyne, a former President of the American bar Association who said, "The work of the Legal Defense Fund is right in keeping with the human rights tone of the Carter Administration. The find has paid for the legal fights that have brought the human rights that exist in this country."