Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Ambassador Johnny Young
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
AMBASSADOR JOHNNY YOUNG
Interviewed by: Charles Stuart Kennedy
Initial interview date: October 21, 2005
Copyright 2008 ADST
[Note: This interview was not edited by Ambassador Young]
Q: Today is the 21st of October, 2005. This is an interview with Ambassador Johnny Young. That's J-O-H-N-N-Y and then Y-O-U-N-G. Let's start at the beginning. Could you tell me when and where you were born?
YOUNG: I was born in Savannah, Georgia on February 6th, 1940.
Q: Okay. Let's talk about your parents first. Can you tell me about your father's side first?
YOUNG: Well, on my father's side he was one of 11 children. There were two sisters and 9 boys. One sister figures quite significantly in my life and I'll explain that in a minute or two. On my mother's side she was one of three. There was a sister and a brother in addition to my mother. Both of my parents were poor folks. They had nothing. We lived in an extended family relationship with my grandmother and my mother and father and some other uncles and their children. We lived in one big house, cramped in a couple or several rooms. Now, I had mentioned an aunt who figured significantly in my life. Shortly after my birth my mother became ill and realized later on that she was terminally ill. She had heart problems, being a black woman in the South, 27 years old at that time, she didn't have access to good medical care and good doctors so that was a factor. I mean we realize it now in retrospect. In any case she turned to my sister-in-law, my father's sister, one of the sisters. The oldest sister and she asked her if she would take me upon her death and raise me and that's exactly what happened when I was 11 months old. My mother died and this aunt took me, her name was Lucille, Lucille Pressey.
Q: How do you spell that?
YOUNG: P-R-E-S-S-E-Y. She took me and she took my sister, Loretta, L-O-R-E-T-T-A, and she raised the two of us. Another sister by the name of Lottie, L-O-T-T-I-E, was taken by the aunt of my mother, sorry by the sister of my mother and she had already moved to New York. This aunt raised me and she was the only mother that I knew. My father was with us, but he was a sometimes father. He was here, he was there. He had his friends and his life and what have you so I didn't have the kind of fatherly support that I would have liked.