On January 22, Stephen Colbert welcomed Ambassador Andrew Young as a guest on "The Colbert Report." The civil rights activist and former mayor of Atlanta explained how he worked with Stephen's father to negotiate a strike at a hospital in Charleston during the Civil Rights Movement. While the comedian joked about how he could use this example to negotiate the Writers' strike, the two touched upon some important principles of nonviolence. Ambassador Young attributes his success with negotiation with the practice of "working it out so that everybody wins and nobody gets credit." He even brought up Gandhi's tactic of giving your opponent a face-saving way out.
One of the most interesting parts of the interview was when Stephen asked Young "How is going on strike the right thing to do?" Young replied simply that it is not and that it is only an option when you cannot talk. I thought this was a very interesting point to bring up. We have discussed strikes as a technique in nonviolent campaigns, but I never really considered before how they can have really serious consequences such as the case when hospital workers go on strike. What happens to all the sick people who need to be taken care of but the hospital cannot accommodate them? The fact that people's lives were at stake added to the pressure for Stephen's father and Andrew Young to work out an agreement between the hospital and the black workers on strike.
I found this episode of "The Colbert Report" to be particularly moving because it was clear that the host had a lot of respect for what his father was able to accomplish with the hospital strike. I also enjoyed how he was able to evaluate this historical demonstration of a nonviolent campaign and then compare it (although jokingly) to the Writers' strike that was going on at the time. Colbert joked that he would not be able to assist with ending the strike because he likes taking credit for things. Young ended the interview with a great punchline when he expressed that he really hoped that the Writers' strike ended soon because Colbert's show desperately needed its writers back.