Siena College is honored to have the opportunity to recognize the life and achievements of Andrew J. Young, a pastor, civil and human rights leader, former Member of Congress, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, and most recently, a global business leader.
A 1951 graduate of Howard University, Ambassador Young was awarded a Bachelor of Science, in anticipation of a dental career. However, during this time, he discerned a call to ministry, and subsequently pursued theological studies at Hartford Theological Seminary, Hartford, CT, earning a Bachelor of Divinity in 1955. He served as a Pastor of a church in Marion, AL, before beginning his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and his later public service.
Ambassador Young began his initial public career in the 1960s as a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During Dr. King's tenure as President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he served as the organization's Executive Director and Executive Vice President. He organized many of Dr. King's famous marches and was with Dr. King at the time of his assassination in April 1968.
Ambassador Young continued to play a vital role in the Civil Rights Movement after Dr. King's death. In 1972, he was elected as a Member of Congress, representing the Fifth District of Georgia, the first African-American Member of Congress from Georgia in 101 years. He served two terms in Congress, with assignments on the House of Representatives Banking and Currency Committee, as well as the Rules Committee. His legislative interests focused on a wide range of issues, including foreign affairs, the environment, human rights, and labor rights.
In January 1977, Ambassador Young was appointed as the United States Representative to the United Nations, serving until September 1979. During that period, he was also a member of President Carter's Cabinet and National Security Council, as well as representative of the United States at many international conferences. Ambassador Young was elected as Mayor of Atlanta in November 1981 and was reelected to a second term in 1985. During his eight-year tenure, Atlanta enjoyed unprecedented economic success with an addition of 1100 new businesses and 70 billion dollars in private investment, creating one million new jobs. As Mayor, he also ensured that this economic growth was shared among all levels of society by conducting thirty percent of all city business with minority-owned businesses. By the time he stepped down as Mayor, 420 of the Fortune 500 companies were located in Atlanta.
Following his two terms as mayor, Ambassador Young joined Law Companies Group, Inc., an engineering and environmental consulting company with a world-wide presence. He served as Chair of its subsidiary, Law International, Inc., until February 1993 when he was appointed Vice Chair of Law Companies Group. Since 1994, he has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund (SAEDF), a $100 million fund created by the United States to help establish small and medium-sized businesses throughout southern Africa. Ambassador Young also founded and continues to lead as Chair, his consulting firm, GoodWorks International, LLC, an organization that embraces his long-held mission of facilitating economic development in Africa and the Caribbean. His 'good works" have taken him to more than 150 countries, including 48 of 53 countries in Africa. Through his leadership, countries throughout the world have created a successful model that combines religion, education, democracy and free enterprise in ways that support the public good.
His visibility and influence in both national and international arenas played a most pivotal role in the selection by the International Olympic Committee of Atlanta as the host city for the 1996 Centennial Summer Olympic Games. He served as Co-Chair of the Atlanta Organizing Committee for the 1996 Games.
Ambassador Young has served or continues to serve as a member of numerous Boards of Directors, including Atlanta Market Center; Atlanta Falcons; Diversapack; Council on Foreign Relations; Barrick Gold; Independent News and Media; Leon H. Sullivan Foundation; Delta Airlines Advisory Board; Thomas Nelson Publishing Company; Host Marriott Corporation; Howard University; Georgia Tech Advisory Board; The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; The Global Infrastructure Fund; Center for Global Partnership; and The United Nations Foundation.
Ambassador Young has received numerous awards during his career, including most significantly, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, Americas highest civilian award; The Legion d'Honneur from the Republic of France; and The Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement for his leadership of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The recipient of numerous honorary degrees from both United States and international universities, Ambassador Young's achievements have also been recognized by Georgia State University's naming of its School of Policy Studies in his honor, as well as Morehouse College's Center for International Affairs.
Ambassador Young is the author of two books, A Way Out of No Way and An Easy Burden.
In recognition of his life of public service to the people of the United States, particularly through his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement, and later as both an elected and appointed public official at the local and federal levels of our Nation, Siena College awards Ambassador Andrew J. Young, the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.