Ambassador Andrew Young to speak at GGC's May 17 commencement
Former U.N. ambassador and 1981-89 Atlanta mayor Andrew Young will address Georgia Gwinnett College's graduating seniors at the college's spring commencement ceremony, set for 10 a.m., May 17.
"Ambassador Young is one of our nation's most inspiring leaders,” said GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman. "His many public service roles give him a unique perspective on the issues and opportunities facing graduates entering today's global economy. His life demonstrates what a dedicated citizen can do for his community, state and nation. His perspectives are uniquely appropriate for our graduating seniors.”
Young has always viewed his career through the lens of his first career – that of ordained minister. His work for civil and human rights, his many years in public office as congressman, United Nations ambassador and mayor, his leadership of the Atlanta Olympic Games, his advocacy of investment in Africa through GoodWorks International and the establishment of the Andrew J. Young Foundation are all a response to his call to serve.
Young confronted segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and galvanized a movement that transformed our nation through non-violence. He was a key strategist and negotiator during the Civil Rights Campaigns in Birmingham and Selma that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
He was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1972, the first African-American elected from the deep South since Reconstruction. He served on the Banking and Urban Affairs Rules Committees, sponsoring legislation that established a U.S. Institute for Peace, The African Development Bank and the Chattahoochee River National Park, while negotiating federal funds for MARTA, the Atlanta highway system and a new international airport for Atlanta. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to serve as the nation's first African-American ambassador to the United Nations, where he negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought Carter's emphasis on human rights to international diplomacy.
Ambassador Young's leadership as mayor of Atlanta took place during a recession and a reduction in federal funds for cities. He turned to international markets for investments in Atlanta, attracting 1100 new businesses, $70 billion in investment and adding one million jobs to the region.
Ambassador Young led the effort to bring the Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta and as co-chair of the Atlanta Olympic Committee, he oversaw the largest Olympic Games in history – in the number of countries, the number of athletes and the number of spectators. He was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement.
Ambassador Young retired from GoodWorks International, LLC, in 2012 after well over a decade of facilitating sustainable economic development in the Caribbean and in the African business sector.
Ambassador Young has received honorary degrees from more than 100 universities and colleges in the U.S. and abroad. President Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and France awarded him the Legion d'Honneur – the greatest civilian honors in each nation. He recently received an Emmy for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2011, his portrait became part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. President Bill Clinton appointed him the founding chair of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund. Young serves on a number of boards, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Barrick Gold, the United Nations Foundation, the Atlanta Falcons and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University and Morehouse College.