Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young marks his 89th birthday on Friday.
A native of New Orleans, Young has long been associated with Atlanta, including his work in the civil rights movement and representing Atlanta in Congress before he was elected mayor.
Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop offered this tribute to Young in 2012, prepared for the Congressional Record to celebrate Young’s 80th birthday.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a dear friend and a great man, Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. Shakespeare once said that: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts….” Ambassador Andrew Young has played many parts in his lifetime including the roles of minister, civil rights activist, Congressman, Ambassador, Mayor and humanitarian. Ambassador Young will be honored with an 80th birthday celebration on May 20, 2012, in Atlanta, Georgia. This event will be a celebration of Ambassador Young’s life and his dedication to uplifting humankind.
“Ambassador Young was born on March 12, 1932, to the union of Andrew Jackson Young, Sr., and Daisy Fuller Young. His father was a dentist and his mother was a school teacher.
“Ambassador Young attended Dillard University in 1947 for one year before transferring to Howard University where he received his Bachelor of Science and pre-med degree in 1951. After graduating from Howard, Ambassador Young originally wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in dentistry. However, a greater calling was in store for him and he entered the ministry. He received a Bachelor of Divinity Degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut in 1955.
“It was while at Hartford Seminary that Ambassador Young was exposed to the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi. He became enamored with Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent social change. Later, while serving as pastor of a church in Thomasville, Georgia, Ambassador Young met a young Baptist preacher from Atlanta by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at an Alpha Phi Alpha program at Talladega College.
“In 1960, Ambassador Young joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He moved to Atlanta in 1961 and worked vigorously on voter registration drives. He was a gifted strategist who played a great role in organizing various civil rights campaigns in the 1960s. As we all know, these campaigns resulted in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Ambassador Young was with Dr. King on that tragic day in Memphis when he was assassinated.
“Ambassador Young used his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement to fuel his later endeavors. He was Georgia’s first African American to be elected to the Congress since Reconstruction. Additionally, in 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed him as the First African American United Nations Ambassador.
“In 1981, Ambassador Young ran for and was elected Mayor of the city of Atlanta. He served two terms in this post, pushing many initiatives that still have his stamp on them today. Additionally, in 1996, he served as the Co-Chair of the Committee that was successful in bringing the Olympic Games to his beloved city of Atlanta.
“Ambassador Young has always had a humanitarian spirit and in 1996, along with Carlton Masters, he founded GoodWorks International, a consulting firm that promotes investment in Africa and the Caribbean. Ambassador Young has used this tool to continue his advocacy for civil and human rights around the world.
“Dr. King once said, “Life’s most urgent and persistent question is: What are you doing to help others?” Mr. Speaker, I ask that my colleagues join me in paying tribute to Ambassador Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. for his lifelong legacy of helping others. My wife, Vivian, and I commend him for his service and thank his family for sharing him with the world for the betterment of humankind. As I stated earlier, Ambassador Young has played many roles during the course of his life. And as the reviews come on the stage of history, there can be no doubt that Andrew Young has been stellar in each and every one.”