Andrew Young, a pillar of community service


Andrew Young
Date: 
Sat, 1932-03-12

*Andrew Young was born this date in 1932. He is an African-American Civil Rights activist, former mayor of Atlanta, Georgia and American ambassador to the United Nations.

Andrew Jackson Young, Jr was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father was a dentist and his mother a school teacher. After one year at Dillard University, in 1947 Young went to Howard University in Washington D.C. where he received his Bachelor of Science and pre-med degree in 1951. He had planned to follow his father's career of dentistry, but then felt a religious calling. He entered the ministry and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut in 1955. Young also was pastor of a church in Marion, Alabama.

During this time he met Jean Childs, who was to become his wife, and studied the writings of Mohandas Gandhi. Young became interested in Gandhi's concept of non-violent resistance as a tactic for social change. His activism encouraged African Americans to register to vote in Alabama, sometimes facing death threats while doing so. During this time he also became a friend and ally of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1957 Young moved to New York City to work with the National Council of Churches. However as the civil rights movement grew Young decided that his place was back in the American South, and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. He again worked to register Black voters.

In 1964 he was named executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where he organized many peaceful protests. Young also helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Young became one of Dr. King's principal lieutenants, and witnessed King’s assassination in 1968. Two years later he ran unsuccessfully for Congress; in 1972 he ran again and became Georgia's first Black congressman since Reconstruction. He was re-elected in 1974 and 1976. In 1976, President Jimmy Carter appointed Young the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He held that post until 1979, when, contrary to the policy of the Carter administration, he met with a representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. When the occurrence of that meeting was revealed, Young's public statements on the status of the meeting were condemned as evasive by opponents of the administration and he was forced to resign.

Carter awarded Young the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981. Young was elected mayor of Atlanta in 1981, and re-elected in 1985. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Georgia in 1990. He also was co-chair of the committee which brought the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta. Young continues his activism in favor of human rights, and is co-chair of Good Works International and a director of the Drum Major Institute.

He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. Also the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University is one of the country's best policy schools, graduating excellent students while producing extensive research.

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