Andrew Jackson Young (born March 12, 1932) is an American politician, diplomat, activist and pastor from Georgia. He has served as a Congressman from Georgia’s 5th congressional district, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and Mayor of Atlanta. 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.
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 became the first African American since Reconstruction to be elected to Congress from Georgia. Young’s election was momentous: he and Barbara Jordan, a Democrat who was also elected to the House (from Texas) in 1972, became two of the first black southerners in Congress in the twentieth century.Young 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 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, 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.
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. 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. 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. According to a DNA analysis performed by African Ancestry Inc., he is descended partially from people of Sierra Leone.