February 20, 2013

Khalid's 28 Days of Blackness: Day 20: Andrew Young

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        Andrew Jackson Young (born March 12, 1932)
is an American politician, diplomat, activist and pastor from Georgia. He has served as Mayor of Atlanta, a Congressman from the 5th district, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He served as President of the National Council of Churches USA, was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and was a supporter and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Since leaving political office in 1989, Young has founded or served in a large number of organizations founded on public policy, political lobbying and international relations, with a special focus on Africa.

 Early life

Andrew Young was born March 12, 1932 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Daisy Fuller Young, a school teacher, and Andrew Jackson Young, Sr., a dentist. Young's father hired a professional boxer to teach Andrew and his brother how to fight, so they could defend themselves. Young graduated from Howard University and earned a divinity degree from Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1955.[1]

 Early career

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. 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 and Jean moved to New York City to accept a job with the Youth Division of the National Council of Churches. While in New York, Young regularly appeared on Look Up and Live, a weekly Sunday morning television program on CBS, produced by the National Council of Churches in an effort to reach out to secular youth.[2]
Young moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1961, 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 King's principal lieutenants. As a colleague and friend to Martin Luther King Jr. he was a strategist and negotiator during the Civil Rights Campaigns in Birmingham (1963), St. Augustine (1964), Selma (1965), and Atlanta (1966) 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.[3]


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, an Atlanta attorney, who served as his campaign finance chairman. Young 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. Young opposed the Vietnam War,[4] helped enact legislation that established the U.S. Institute for Peace, established the Chattahoochee River National Park and negotiated federal funds for MARTA and the Atlanta Highways.

 Ambassador to the United Nations

Ambassador Young, calling from New York City on an STU-I secure phone during the Israel-Egypt peace talks. (NSA museum)
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Young to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Young resigned from Congress, and his seat was taken by Wyche Fowler after a special election.
Though the US and the UN enacted an arms embargo against South Africa, as President Carter's UN ambassador, Andrew Young vetoed economic sanctions.[5]
Young caused controversy when, during a July 1978 interview with French newspaper Le Matin de Paris, while discussing the Soviet Union and its treatment of political dissidents, he said, "We still have hundreds of people that I would categorize as political prisoners in our prisons," in reference to jailed civil-rights and anti-war protestors. In response, U.S. Representative Larry McDonald (D-GA) sponsored a resolution to impeach Young, but the measure failed 293 to 82. Carter referred to it in a press conference as an "unfortunate statement".[1]
In 1979, Young played a leading role in advancing a settlement in Rhodesia with Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, who had been two of the military leaders in the Rhodesian Bush War, which had ended in 1979. The settlement paved the way for Mugabe to take power as Prime Minister of the newly-formed Republic of Zimbabwe. There had been a general election in 1979, bringing Bishop Abel Muzorewa to power as leader of the United African National Council leading to the short-lived country of Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Young refused to accept the election's results, and described the election as "neofascist", a sentiment echoed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 445 and 448. The situation was resolved the next year with the Lancaster House Agreement and the establishment of Zimbabwe.[1]
Young's favoring of Mugabe and Nkomo over Muzorewa and his predecessor and ally, Ian Smith, was, and remains, controversial. Many African-American activists, including Jesse Jackson and Coretta Scott King, supported the anti-colonialism represented by Mugabe and Nkomo.[1] However, it was opposed by others, including civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin, who argued that the 1979 election had been "free and fair",[6] as well as senators Harry F. Byrd, Jr. (I-VA) and Jesse Helms (R-NC). It was later criticized in 2005 by Gabriel Shumba, executive director of the anti-Mugabe Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.[7]
In July 1979, Young discovered that an upcoming report by the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights called for the creation of a Palestinian State. Young wanted to delay the report because the Carter Administration was dealing with too many other issues at the time. He met with the UN representatives of several Arab countries to try to convince them the report should be delayed; they agreed in principle, but insisted that the Palestine Liberation Organization also had to agree. As a result, on July 20, Young met with Zehdi Terzi, the UN representative of the PLO, at the apartment of the UN Ambassador from Kuwait. On August 10, news of this meeting became public. The meeting was highly controversial, since the United States had already promised Israel that it would not meet directly with the PLO until the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist.[1]
Young's UN ambassadorship ended on August 14.[1][8][9] Jimmy Carter denied any complicity in what was called the "Andy Young Affair", and asked Young to resign. Asked about the incident by Time soon afterward, Young stated, "It is very difficult to do the things that I think are in the interest of the country and maintain the standards of protocol and diplomacy... I really don't feel a bit sorry for anything that I have done."[10] Soon afterward, on the television show Meet the Press, he stated that Israel was "stubborn and intransigent."[8]
Young spent the next two years running a consulting firm called Young Ideas.

 Atlanta mayor

In 1981, after being urged by a number of people, including Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., Young ran for mayor of Atlanta. He was elected later that year with 55% of the vote, succeeding Maynard Jackson. As mayor of Atlanta, he brought in $70 billion of new private investment.[11] He continued and expanded Maynard Jackson's programs for including minority and female-owned businesses in all city contracts. The Mayor's Task Force on Education established the Dream Jamboree College Fair that tripled the college scholarships given to Atlanta public school graduates. In 1985, he was involved in renovating the Atlanta Zoo, which was renamed Zoo Atlanta.[12] Young was re-elected as Mayor in 1985 with more than 80% of the vote. Atlanta hosted the 1988 Democratic National Convention during Young's tenure. He was prohibited by term limits from running for a third term.

 Post-mayoral career

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 October 1994, then-U.S. president Bill Clinton, along with then-president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, established the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund (SAEDF), and named Young as its Chairman. The fund was established to provide funding to help small- and medium-size indigenous businesses throughout southern Africa.
In 1996, Young wrote A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young, published by Thomas Nelson.
In 1996, Young and Carlton Masters co-founded GoodWorks 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 GoodWorks' 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.[13]
From 2000 to 2001, Young served as president of the National Council of Churches.[14]
In 2003, Young founded the Andrew Young Foundation, an organization meant to support and promote education, health, leadership and human rights in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean.[15]
In 2004 Young briefly considered running for U.S. Senate from Georgia after the incumbent, Zell Miller, announced his retirement, but decided not to re-enter public life.
In 2005, to honor the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Young, William Wachtel and Norman Ornstein founded Why Tuesday?, a nonpartisan group dedicated to increasing voter participation by moving the national voting day from Tuesday to the weekend.
From February to August 2006, Young served as the public spokesman for Working Families for Wal-Mart, an advocacy group for the retail chain Wal-Mart.[16] Young resigned from the position soon after a controversial interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, in which, when asked about Wal-Mart hurting independent businesses, he replied, "You see those are the people who have been overcharging us, and they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs."[17]
In 2007, the Andrew Young Foundation produced the documentary film Rwanda Rising,[18] about Rwanda's progress since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Young also served as the film's narrator. Rwanda Rising premiered as the opening night selection at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2007.[19]
An edited version of Rwanda Rising served as the pilot episode of Andrew Young Presents,[20] a series of quarterly, hour long specials airing on nationally syndicated television.[21]
On January 22, 2008, Young appeared as a guest on the television show The Colbert Report. Host Stephen Colbert invited Young to appear during the writer's strike, because, in 1969, Young and Colbert's father had worked together to mediate a hospital workers' strike.[22] Young made another appearance on The Colbert Report on November 5, 2008, to talk about the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.[23]

 Personal life and family

Young had four children with his first wife, Jean Childs, who died of cancer in 1994.[24] He married his second wife, Carolyn McClain, in 1996.[25]
According to a DNA analysis performed by African Ancestry Inc., he descended partially from people of Sierra Leone.[26]
Young was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 1999, which was successfully removed with surgery in January 2000.[27]


  • An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America. (January 1998)
  • A Way Out of No Way. (June 1996)
  • Andrew Young at the United Nations. (January 1978)
  • Andrew Young, Remembrance & Homage. (January 1978)
  • The History of the Civil Rights Movement. (9 volumes) (September 1990)
  • Trespassing Ghost: A Critical Study of Andrew Young. (January 1978)
  • Walk in My Shoes: Conversations between a Civil Rights Legend and his Godson on the Journey Ahead with Kabir Sehgal. (May 2010) ISBN 978-0-230-62360-6

 Awards and honors

 Places named after Andrew Young

  • International Boulevard, near Centennial Olympic Park, was renamed Andrew Young International Boulevard, in honor of his involvement in bringing the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta.
  • The Andrew Young Center for International Affairs at Morehouse College was named after Young.
  • The Andrew and Walter Young YMCA, the only full service YMCA operating in Southwest Atlanta, is named after Young and his younger brother.[31]

Khalid B. Scott, MSW, CADC, MISA I, LCWS, QMHPO:-)