WASHINGTON D.C. —
Young was able to tell people like industrialist Henry Ford II that they needed to step up and do something about the living and working conditions of blacks in ways that captured their respect, said Nancy Weiss Malkiel, author of the 1989 book "Whitney M. Young Jr. and the Struggle for Civil Rights."
Young was not as visible on the front lines of civil rights protests, but he could say with humor and partly in earnest to members of the white establishment that if they didn't deal with him, they would have to deal with Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, who espoused more radical agendas than King, Malkiel said.
Boswell's film airs as the first black president, Barack Obama, begins his second term in office. Obama, whose mother was white and father was black, has endured a racist backlash in his presidency and criticism from within the black community over whether he is doing enough for black Americans.
Dickerson said Young's ideas are a template that Obama has deployed in his political rise. "That is inter-racialism and an emphasis on corporate relations," he said. "That was Whitney Young's mantra and that's the president's mantra."