Delta CEO Ed Bastian and Ambassador Andrew Young joined a livestream for Delta employees to reflect on the history of racial injustice and equity movements in the U.S. and Atlanta, as well as what the future holds in light of recent events across the country. The virtual livestream is available for replay here and above.
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Ambassador Young served as a member of Congress, an ambassador to the United Nations, the Mayor of Atlanta and an ordained minister, among other positions. In each of these roles, he was a champion of civil and human rights — helping to draw up the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, creating sanctions to oppose rule by apartheid in South Africa, and working with his friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bastian noted that Delta’s mission of connecting people is as important as ever. Delta is committed to becoming a more just and equitable company, sharing progress toward commitments the airline has made in a memo on Monday.
Fittingly, Ambassador Young joined Bastian for this discussion the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and shared his memories of his colleague and compatriot. According to Ambassador Young, Dr. King didn’t choose to be a leader — rather, his leadership “was an act of God.” He moved to Montgomery to avoid being pushed into politics, but just two weeks after he submitted his dissertation to Boston University, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat and the bus boycott began.
Ambassador Young noted that he too was thrust into a political career as he fought for civil rights alongside Dr. King for many years. In fact, he was with Dr. King on the day he was assassinated.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. did not die. He was shot — and I saw his blood, and I saw his spinal cord, and I realized his body was finished,” said Ambassador Young. “That bullet released his spirit, and his spirit has gone all over the world for the last 53 years. There are more people talking about him today than there were the day before he was shot.”
Ambassador Young explained that no one ever said the fight for racial justice and equity would be easy, but that we have made it this far for a reason.
Looking toward the future, Ambassador Young said, “it’s our turn on the end of the runway, and we’re ready for take-off.” Considering the recent events in our country, he shared with the Delta people that the future is just beginning.
“You can’t figure out where you’re going unless you know where you came from,” said Bastian. “There is a soul to Delta, there is a focus. We touch the world — we connect the world. No one better connects the world than Delta Air Lines, because we bring people together.”