Blackity Black History Month: ATL Icon Andrew Young

Blackity Black History Month: ATL Icon Andrew Young

There can be no democracy without truth. There can be no truth without controversy, there can be no change without freedom. Without freedom there can be no progress."

— Civil Rights icon, former Georgia Congressman and former Atlanta mayor, Andrew Young

Andrew Jackson Young Jr. (born March 12, 1932) was an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement, serving as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and a close confidant to Martin Luther King Jr. Young later became active in politics, serving as a U.S. Congressman from Georgia, United States Ambassador to the United Nations in the Carter Administration, and 55th Mayor of Atlanta.

He won his Georgia Congressional seat in 1972, and later was re-elected in 1974 and in 1976. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Young to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Young was the first African American to hold the position.

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, and continued and expanded Jackson's programs for including minority and female-owned businesses in all city contracts. Young was re-elected as mayor in 1985 with more than 80% of the vote. During his tenure, he talked about how he was "glad to be mayor of this city, where once the mayor had me thrown in jail."

Since leaving office, Young has founded or served in many organizations working on issues of public policy and political lobbying.


Each day this month, we'll be sharing wise words from Black Atlanta icons — some who are household names and some who you may not know. Atlanta history IS Black history, and this is our way of sharing it.