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Former Atlanta Mayor Ambassaor Andrew Young celebrates 80 | People

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Former Atlanta Mayor Ambassaor Andrew Young celebrates 80
Former Atlanta Mayor Ambassaor Andrew Young celebrates 80

Living a life of many hats, many jokes, and many roles; civil rights crusader, and political leader Andrew Young born March 12, 1932, celebrated 80 years Tuesday with family and friends.

Receiving an early birthday gift a week before in Atlanta, also known as “the city which he built;” Young’s birthday and achievements were recognized during a surprise reception at Atlanta City Hall, chaired by Councilman Michael Julian Bond.

“I’ll be damned, they put one over on me,” Young said, joined by his daughter Andrea and co-conspirator wife Carolyn Young.

Mrs. Young revealed that her plot to surprise "Andy" was inspired after speaking with Bond during a Trumpet Awards Civil Rights Walk of Fame induction January; and from her to desire to do something for a man always doing for someone else.

Bond joined by fellow councilmembers declared March 5th Andrew Young Day; and presented the marveled former Atlanta mayor with a proclamation in summation of his many contributions:

“…For eighty years, he has inspired us with his accomplishments, but at his core still a minister, a servant leader always willing to wash the feet of others...His work for civil and human rights, his years in public office as Congressman, United Nations Ambassador and Mayor of Atlanta, his leadership of the Atlanta Olympic Games, his advocacy through GoodWorks International, and the establishment of the Andrew J. Young Foundation are all a response to his call to serve…He confronted segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and served as a key strategist and negotiator during the Civil Rights Movement resulting in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965…”

Bond expressed that honoring Young was his personal honor, as Young’s campaign for Atlanta Mayor helped to inspire his own public service and was his first experience volunteering on a  political campaign—though he was rewarded by his father with several Burger King excursions.

A reverend, SCLC foot soldier, and Emmy-award winning producer, Young is credited with negotiating an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe as the first African-American U.N. Ambassador; sponsoring legislation to establish the U.S. Institute for Peace, the African Development Bank, the Chattahoochee River National Park, and Atlanta’s international airport; and for his special focus on public policy, lobbying and international relations in Africa.

Under his mayoral administration, Young brought $70 billion in new private investment to the city of Atlanta, 1,100 new businesses and one million jobs to the region. He expanded programs for including minority and female-owned businesses in all city contracts; tripled college scholarships given to Atlanta public school graduates; was instrumental in overhauling and privatizing Zoo Atlanta and hosted the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

For his history-book worthy accomplishments, Young in classic wit offered thanks for all the hell over the years and for countless cuss-out’s.   

The ambassador celebrated his birthday morning by swimming 80 laps and with a visit to a juke joint the night before.  With Southwest Atlanta’s only full service YMCA ‘Andrew and Walter Young YMCA,’ named his legacy and that of his younger brother Walter, swimming one lap for each year of life -and an extra for good measure has become a yearly tradition for him.

The official birthday celebration for Amb. Andrew Young is set to take place in Atlanta, May 20th, cabaret-style and undoubtedly also with some form of New Orleans flair, at the Hyatt Regency.