Fall 2018 Commencement
(November 20, 2018) - Ambassador Andrew J. Young has always viewed his career through the lens of his first career–that of ordained minister. His work for civil and human rights, his many years in public office as Congressman, United Nations Ambassador, and Mayor of Atlanta, as well as his leadership for the Olympic Games in Atlanta, his advocacy of investment in Africa through GoodWorks International, and the establishment of the Andrew J. Young Foundation are all a response to his call to serve.
Early in his life, Ambassador Young confronted segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and galvanized a movement that transformed a nation through non-violence. Young was a key strategist and negotiator during the Civil Rights Campaigns in Birmingham and Selma that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Ambassador Young was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1972, the first African-American elected from the deep South since Reconstruction. He served on the Banking and Urban Affairs, and Rules Committees. He sponsored legislation that established a U.S. Institute for Peace, The African Development Bank, and the Chattahoochee River National Park, while negotiating federal funds for MARTA, the Atlanta highway system, and a new international airport for Atlanta.
In 1977, former President Jimmy Carter appointed him to serve as the nation's first African-American Ambassador to the United Nations, where he negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought Carter’s emphasis on human rights to international diplomacy.
Ambassador Young is recognized by many in the Atlanta community for his leadership as Mayor of Atlanta in the 1980s, at a time when the nation experienced a recession and a reduction in federal funds for cities. He turned to international markets for investments in Atlanta attracting 1100 new businesses and $70 billion in investment adding 1 million jobs to the region. He also developed public-private partnerships to leverage public dollars for the preservation of Zoo Atlanta.
Ambassador Young also led the effort to bring the Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta. As co-chair of the Atlanta Olympic Committee, he oversaw the largest Olympic Games in history–measured by the number of countries, the number of athletes, and the number of spectators. For his efforts, he was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement.
Ambassador Young has received honorary degrees from more than 100 universities and colleges in the U.S. and abroad. President Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and France awarded him the Legion d’Honneur, the greatest civilian honor in each nation. He has received an EMMY for Lifetime Achievement and, in 2011, his portrait became part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Former President Bill Clinton appointed him the founding chair of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund.
He serves on a number of boards, including the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Barrick Gold, the United Nations Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons, the Andrew Young School for Policy Studies at Georgia State University and Morehouse College.
Ambassador Young is the author of three books: A Way Out of No Way, An Easy Burden and Walk in My Shoes. He is the father of four and the grandfather of nine. Ambassador Young and his wife, educator and civic leader Carolyn McClain Young, reside in Atlanta.