Andrew Young (born March 12, 1932) is a noted Civil rights activist, former mayor of Atlanta, Georgia and the United States's ambassador to the United Nations in the Jimmy Carter administration.
Andrew Young was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father was a dentist and his mother a school teacher.
After one year at New Orleans' Dillard University, in 1947 Young went to Howard University in Washington D.C. where he received his Bachelor of Science and pre-med degree in 1951. He had originally planned to follow his father's career of dentistry, but then felt a religious calling. He entered the ministry and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut in 1955.
Andrew Young then served as pastor of a church in Marion, Alabama. In Marion he met Jean Childs, who was to become his wife, and studied the writings of Mohandas Gandhi. 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, sometimes facing death threats while doing so. He became a friend and ally of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at this time.
In 1957 Ambassador Young moved to New York City to accept a job with the National Council of Churches. However as the civil rights movement heated up Young decided that his place was back in the US South, and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. He again worked on drives to register Black voters. In 1964 he was named executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with whom he organized many peaceful protests. Young became one of Dr. King's principal lieutenants, and was with King in Memphis, Tennessee when King was shot in 1968.
Andrew Young helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1970 Andrew Young ran unsuccessfully for Congress; in 1972 he ran again and became Georgia's first African American congressman since Reconstruction. He was re-elected in 1974 and 1976.
In 1976, President Jimmy Carter appointed Young the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He held that post until 1979, when, contrary to the policy of the Carter administration, he met with a representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. When the occurrence of that meeting was revealed, Young's public statements on the status of the meeting were condemned as evasive by opponents of the administration and he was forced to resign. Defenders of Carter's role in securing Young's resignation point to the significance of the pledge made by Carter, when he took office in the wake of Watergate, to commit his administration to the highest standards of honesty in its public statements.
Carter awarded Young the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981. Andrew Young was elected mayor of Atlanta in 1981, and re-elected in 1985. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Georgia in 1990, losing in the Democratic primary runoff to future Governor Zell Miller.
Young was co-chair of the committee which brought the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta.
Young is co-chair of Good Works International, a consulting firm, "offering international market access and political risk analysis in key emerging markets within Africa and the Caribbean." The company's website 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 Young was trading on his background as a civil rights activist to improve Nike's corporate image.
Young is a director of the Drum Major Institute. In 2004, he briefly considered running for US Senate after the incumbent, Zell Miller announced his retirement.
The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University is one of the country's best policy schools, graduating excellent students while producing extensive research.
Young is a prominent member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.
In February 2005, Young accepted a position as chairman of "Working Families for Wal-Mart", an organization sponsored by the corporate giant as a public response to widespread criticism that many of the company's American employees and their children are on public assistance, that the company uses child labor, that the company discriminates against female and African-American employees, and that workers manufacturing Wal-Mart products are subject to abusive conditions and sub-povert wages.