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Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta
Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. was born into a middle class family in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 12, 1932. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Howard University in 1951, after which he attended the Hartford Seminary Foundation. After being ordained into the ministry, he spent a few years as a pastor in rural Georgia before joining the New York City staff of the National Council of Churches, in 1957.
In 1961, Young moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. As an active participant in King's civil rights movement, he marched with King in Albany, Birmingham, Selma, St. Augustine, and Chicago, and was very active in registering blacks to vote and then getting them to the polls. He was also active in the movement against the Vietnam War and in the Poor People's Campaign of 1968, and was present when King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
In 1972, Jackson became the first black to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from a Southern state since Reconstruction; he was subsequently re-elected twice. While in the House, Young served on the Banking Committee, and later on the Rules Committee. He was instrumental in passing Urban Mass Transit legislation, and worked with the Department of Transportation and Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson to relocate the new Hartsfield International Airport.
As a U.S. Congressman from Georgia, Young had frequent dealings with Governor Jimmy Carter, who, upon being elected President named Young as the U.S. Ambassador the United Nations. Between 1977 and 1979, Ambassador Young established the United States as a staunch defender of human rights and opponent of apartheid in South Africa. But in 1979, Jackson caused controversy when he privately met with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which at the time was against federal policy, and was forced to resign.
As Mayor of Atlanta from 1981 to 1989, Young worked to make Atlanta a center of international commerce, and during the course of his term over seventy billion dollars poured into the metropolitan area economy. In 1988, Young agreed to back an effort to bring the Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta. That effort was rewarded when, on September 19, 1990, the International Olympic Committee awarded the games to Atlanta.
Young left the political spotlight after an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination to be Governor of Georgia in 1990. In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed him chairman of the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund, a $100 million privately managed fund to provide equity to businesses in 11 countries. In 1996, he served as co-chairman of the Centennial Olympic Games, and from 2000 to 2001 he served as president of the National Council of Churches, USA.
Andrew Young still lives in Atlanta, where he is currently chairman of GoodWorks International, a specialty consulting group that provides strategic services to corporations and governments operating in the global economy. He also serves as a Public Affairs Professor of Policy Studies at Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. In addition to these duties, Young is also a member of the boards of directors of numerous businesses and organizations.
Young is the author of two books -- A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young (1994) and An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America (1996).
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This page was last updated on May 31, 2017.