andy young

Andrew Young

This page is about Congressman and Ambassador Andrew Young. For other men with the same name, see Andrew Young (disambiguation).

Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. (born March 12, 1932) is an American civil rights activist, former U.S. congressman and mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, and was the United States' first African-American ambassador to the United Nations. In the 1950s, Young served as director of the youth division of the National Council of Churches and four decades later was elected to a term as president of the New York City-based ecumenical Council.

The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta was named after him. International Boulevard, near the Centennial Olympic Park, has been re-named Andrew Young International Boulevard, in honor of his efforts to secure the Olympic bid for Atlanta.


Early life

Andrew Young's mother, Daisy Fuller Young, was a school teacher, and his father, Andrew Jackson Young, Sr., was a dentist. He hired a professional boxer to teach Andrew and his brother how to fight, so they could defend themselves. From that, Andrew decided that violence was not the path he would choose to follow.


After beginning his higher education at Dillard University, Young transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1947, and received his Bachelor of Science and pre-medical degrees there in 1951. He originally 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 Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1955.

Young is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first inter-collegiate Greek-letter organization established for African Americans.

On Tuesday April 1, 2008, Young was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa from Bridgewater College during the 11 a.m. convocation in the Carter Center for Worship and Music led by Bridgewater President Phillip C. Stone.

Civil rights

Young was appointed to serve as pastor of a church in Marion, Alabama. It was there in Marion that he met Jean Childs, who later became his wife. In 1957, Andrew was called to the Youth Division of The National Council of Churches in New York City. He produced a television program for youth called, Look Up and Live, traveled to Geneva for meetings of the World Council of Churches around the United States. Also while in Marion, Young began to study the writings of Mohandas Gandhi. Young became interested in Gandhi's concept of non-violent resistance as a tactic for social change. He encouraged African-Americans to register to vote in Alabama, and sometimes faced death threats while doing so. He became a friend and ally of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at this time. In 1957, Young moved to New York City to accept a job with the National Council of Churches. However, as the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, Young decided that his place was back in the South. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and again worked on drives to register black voters. In 1960 he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Young was jailed for his participation in civil rights demonstrations, both in Selma, Alabama, and in St. Augustine, Florida. Young played a key role in the events in Birmingham, Alabama, serving as a mediator between the white and black communities. In 1964 Young was named executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), becoming, in that capacity, one of Dr. King's principal lieutenants. As a colleague and friend to Martin Luther King Jr. he was a key strategist and negotiator during the Civil Rights Campaiggns in Birmingham (1963) and Selma (1965) that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.He was with King in Memphis, Tennessee, when King was assassinated in 1968.

In 2005, to honor the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Ambassador Young, William Wachtel and Norman Ornstein founded Why Tuesday?, a nonpartisan group dedicated to increasing voter participation.

Career in Congress

In 1970 Andrew Young ran as a Democrat for Congress from Georgia, but was unsuccessful. After his defeat, Rev. Fred C. Bennette, Jr., introduced him to Murray M. Silver, Esq., Atlanta, Georgia, Attorney, who served as his campaign finance chairman, promoted concerts featuring top entertainers including Harry Belafonte and Bill Withers. He ran again in 1972 and won. He later was re-elected in 1974 and in 1976. During his four-plus years in Congress he was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and he was involved in several debates regarding foreign relations including the decision to stop supporting the Portuguese attempts to hold on to their colonies in southern Africa. Young also sat on the powerful Rules committee and the Banking and Urban Development committee. Andrew opposed the Vietnam War, enacted legislation that established a U.S. Institute for peace, established the Chattahoochee River National Park and negotiated federal funds for MARTA and the Atlanta Highways.

Diplomatic career

In 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed Young Ambassador to the U.N. His controversial statements made headlines almost from the start. He played a leading role in advancing a settlement in Zimbabwe with Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomu.

Atlanta mayor

In 1981, Young was elected mayor of Atlanta, succeeding Maynard Jackson. As mayor of Atlanta he brought in 70 billion dollars of new private investment, including the 1996 Olympic games-making Atlanta the engine of prosperity for Georgia that it remains today. He continued and expanded Maynard Jackson's programs for including minority and female-owned businesses in all city contracts. Atlanta hosted the 1984 Democratic National convention and the Mayor's Task Force on Education established the Dream Jamboree College Fair that tripled the college scholarships given to Atlanta Public school graduates. He also revamped the Atlanta zoo, making ecological habitats specific to different animals. Young was re-elected as Mayor in 1985 with more than 80% of the vote.

Private citizen

Young ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Georgia in 1990, losing in the Democratic primary run-off to future Governor Zell Miller. However, while running for the Statehouse, he simultaneously was serving as a co-chairman of a committee which, at the time, was attempting to bring the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta. Young played a significant role in the success of Atlanta's bid to host the Summer Games.

In 1996, Young wrote A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young, published by Thomas Nelson.

Young is currently co-chairman of Good Works International, a consulting firm "offering international market access and political risk analysis in key emerging markets within Africa and the Caribbean." The company's Web site also notes that "GWI principals have backgrounds in human rights and public service. The concept of enhancing the greater good is intrinsic to our business endeavors." Nike is one of Good Works' most visible corporate clients. In the late 1990s, at the height of controversy over the company's labor practices, Young led a delegation to report on Nike operations in Vietnam. Anti-sweatshop activists derided the report as a whitewash and raised concerns that Nike was trading on Young's background as a civil-rights activist to improve Nike's corporate image. Young also has been a director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, and also is the chairman of the board for the Global Initiative for the Advancement of Nutritional Therapy.

In 2004 Young briefly considered running for U.S. Senate after the incumbent, Zell Miller, announced his retirement, but decided not to re-enter public life.

On January 22, 2008, Young appeared as a guest on the Comedy Central talk show parody The Colbert Report. Host Stephen Colbert invited Young to appear during the writer's strike, because, many years earlier, Young and Colbert's father had worked together, but on opposite sides, to mediate a Charleston, South Carolina hospital workers' strike.

Community Development

The Andrew Young Foundation was founded to support and promote education, health, leadership and human rights in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. Formed in the context of a philosophy of nonviolent social change and a belief that to unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, the foundation works to support, promote and develop global institutions and leaders with the capacity and knowledge to improve and enhance social and economic justice and human rights through faith, nonviolent action, democratic institutions and socially responsible for-profit corporations.

The Andrew Young School For Policy Studies,Georgia State University is one of the country's best schools of public policy. The school offers degrees in public policy, urban studies and economics. Affiliated centers provide vital research on local, national and international issues, including areas such as health, public finance and tax policy. AYSPS students come from 40 countries and the United States pursuing undergraduate and graduate degress in economics, public administration and public policy.

Andrew Young Center for International Affairs, Morehouse College provides overall leadership to the college's international education objectives and assists in creating an institutional culture of internationalism. Central to its mission is the preparation of students for service in the global community. The vision is to help students to realize their leadership potential with the full understanding of this country's role in global affairs and national civic improvements.

Andrew and Walter Young YMCA is the only full service "Y" operating in Southwest Atlanta. Community programs include a newly renovated child care center, summer youth programs, a teen mom's program, as well as health and fitness programs for every age-children to seniors.

Jean Childs Young Institute for Youth Leadership improves the quality of life for youth through leadership, collaboration, advocacy and service in partnerhip with adults, and supports them in identifying and implementing solutions to the problems they face in the community. The Institute is unique because the teens, themselves, set the agenda.

Ambassador Young also funds several film projects encouraging and supporting Americans to explore African countries.

The Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund (SAEDF) established in October 1994, is an initiative of the Former President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States, Former President Nelson Mandela of the Republic of South Africa, and the US Congress for the specific purpose of providing funding to stimulate the creation and expansion of small and medium-size indigenous businesses throughout southern Africa.The Honorable Andrew Young, former congressman, Mayor, United Nations Ambassador and Civil rights leader, was appointed as Chairman by President Clinton. SAEDF is an enterprise fund whose primary objective is to assist the countries of the southern African region with the specific purpose of providing funding to stimulate the creation and expansion of small and medium-size indigenous businesses throughout southern Africa.The promotion of enterprise development is expected to stimulate social development and have economic impact in the region. SAEDF provides wholesale and retail long-term risk capital to promising enterprises from the indigenous groups that might otherwise have been ignored by potential investors in the general marketplace. It also co-invests with other institutions or organizations that share the same investment objectives.

Books and Awards

An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America. (Jan 1998)

A Way Out of No Way. (June 1996)

Andrew Young at the United Nations. (Jan 1978)

Andrew Young, Remembrance & Homage. (Jan 1978)

The History of the Civil Rights Movement/9 volumes. (Sept 1990)

Trespassing Ghost: A Critical Study of Andrew Young. (Jan 1978)

The History of the Civil Rights Movement. (Sep 1990)

Repairing the breach: Keys ways to support Family life, Reclaim out streets, and Rebuild Civil Society in America's communitie Report of the National Task Force on Africa.


Presidential Medal of Freedom.

France's Legion d'Honneur.

NAACP's Springarn Medal.

More than 45 honorary degrees from Universities such as Yale, Notre Dame, Clark Atlanta, Emory and University of Georgia.

Documentary producer

"Rwanda Rising" premiered as the opening night selection at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2007. Produced, narrated and financed by Young, this ambitious documentary told of a remarkable transformation taking place in the small African nation just over a dozen years after one of the worst genocides in history. Although the story had been all but overlooked by the mainstream media -- which Young believes has systemically failed to report positive stories from Africa -- he found the people of Rwanda no longer identified themselves by ethnic group, but, rather, had forgiven one another and joined forces as Rwandans to rebuild their country.

A number of prominent African American actors supported Young's project with voiceovers, including Danny Glover, Forrest Whitaker, Louis Gossett Jr., Levar Burton, Cicely Tyson, Phylicia Rashad, Jasmine Guy, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Lorraine Toussaint, and Elisabeth Omilami.

An edited version of "Rwanda Rising" served as the pilot episode of "Andrew Young Presents," a series of quarterly, hour long specials airing on nationally syndicated television. Each program expands on Young's optimism with regard to Africa and the world.

Young has said he is working on documentaries in Nigeria and Tanzania and has completed major videotaping.


  • Andrew Young, An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America New York: HarperCollins, 1996.
  • Bartlett Jones, Flawed Triumphs: Andy Young at the United Nations Lanham: University Press of America, 1996.
  • Andrew DeRoche, Andrew Young: Civil Rights Ambassador Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2003.
  • Oral History Interview by Dr. Mel Steely, May 1997 (Georgia's Political Heritage Project,University of West Georgia)
  • Oral history interview by Jack Bass and Walter DeVries, January 1974 (Southern Oral History Program, UNC-Chapel Hill)
  • Transcript, Andrew J. Young, Jr., Oral History Interview I, 1970-06-18, by Thomas H. Baker, Internet Copy, LBJ Library. Accessed 2005-04-03.

External Links

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