Andrew Young (b. 1932)
Andrew Young's lifelong work as a politician, human rights activist, and businessman has been in great measure responsible for the development of Atlanta's reputation as an international city.
Early Life and Career
Born on March 12, 1932, into a prosperous middle-class family,
Young graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1951 with a bachelor of science degree in biology. He then earned a divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut and accepted the pastorate of Bethany Congregational Church in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1955. While there he immersed himself in civil rights and in organizing voter registration drives. Young joined the staff of the National Council of Churches in 1957, the year U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect African American schoolchildren in a school desegregation case.
Civil Rights Leadership
Young left his
Young assisted in the organization of "citizenship schools" for the SCLC, workshops that taught nonviolent organizing strategies to local people whom members of the organization had identified as potential leaders. The schools served rural, typically uneducated blacks who sometimes chafed under Young's leadership. Differences in education and economic background between Young and other black leaders of that time may have caused some to consider him elitist. Nonetheless, the citizenship schools educated a generation of civic leaders and registered thousands of voters throughout the South, and were largely responsible for both the civil rights movement's democratic ethos and its eventual success.
Young became a trusted aide to Martin Luther King Jr., eventually rising to the executive directorship of the SCLC. He was instrumental in organizing voter registration and desegregation campaigns in Albany; Birmingham and Selma, Alabama; and Washington, D.C., among other places. He was with King when the civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
While in Congress, Young championed the causes of poor and working-class Americans and opposed efforts to increase military budgets. He supported the 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, and in 1977 Carter named Young ambassador to the United Nations.
Young returned to Atlanta and in 1981 was elected the city's mayor. His election signaled the institutionalization of the revolution in black political power he had helped to create in Georgia. For the first time an African American mayor (Maynard Jackson) handed over the keys of a major city to another African American. Young won reelection in 1985 but was defeated in a 1990 primary bid to become the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia. In 1993 Morehouse College in Atlanta established the Center for International Studies, which was renamed the Andrew Young Center for International Studies in March 1998.
Young had four children with his first wife, Jean Childs Young, who died of cancer in 1994. He married his second wife, Carolyn, in 1996. Young has published two books, A Way Out of No Way (1994) and An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America (1996).
Young's papers are housed at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
Andrew J. DeRoche, Andrew Young:Civil Rights Ambassador (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 2003).
Adam Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987).
David J. Garrow, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (New York: William Morrow, 1986).
Juan Williams, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 (New York: Viking, 1987).
J. Todd Moye, National Park Service
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.