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Andrew Jackson Young (1932 - )

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Andrew Jackson Young (1932 - ) Awarded for:
His contribution to the struggle against oppression in South Africa, striving for better and fairer global social order and championing the cause of human rights in the international arena.

Profile of Andrew Jackson Young

Mr Andrew Jackson Young was born on 12 March 1932 in New Orleans. His mother was a teacher and his father a dentist. He grew up in a predominantly Italian and Irish neighbourhood.

After beginning his higher education at Dillard University, Young transferred to Howard University in Washington, DC in 1947, and received his Bachelor of Science in pre-dentistry in 1951. Young was appointed to serve as pastor of a church in Marion, Alabama. While in Marion, Mr Young began to study the writings of Mohandas Gandhi.

Mr Young became interested in Gandhi’s concept of non-violent resistance as a tactic for social change. He encouraged African- Americans to register to vote in Alabama, and sometimes faced death threats while doing so. He became a friend and ally of Dr Martin Luther King at this time. In 1957, Mr Young and his first wife, Jean, moved to New York City to accept a job with the Youth Division of the National Council of Churches. While in New York, Mr Young regularly appeared on Look Up and Live, a weekly Sunday morning television programme on CBS, produced by the National Council of Churches in an effort to reach out to secular youth.

In 1960, he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Mr Young was jailed for his participation in civil rights demonstrations, both in Selma, Alabama and in St. Augustine, Florida. He played a key role in the events in Birmingham, Alabama, serving as a mediator between the white and black communities. In 1964, Mr Young was named executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, becoming in that capacity, one of Dr King’s principal lieutenants.

As a colleague and friend to Dr Martin Luther King Jr., he was a strategist and negotiator during the civil rights campaigns in Birmingham (1963), St. Augustine (1964) and Selma (1965) that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. He was with Dr King in Memphis, Tennessee, when Dr King was assassinated in 1968.

Mr Young was a member of the United States (US) House of Representatives from Georgia’s fifth congressional district from 3 January 1973 until 29 January 1977. He was the US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) from 1977 until 1979. Mr Young became the first African-American to serve in the position. As UN Ambassador, Mr Young played a leading role in advancing a settlement in Rhodesia with Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, who had been two of the military leaders in the Rhodesian Bush War, which ended in 1979. He was the Mayor of Atlanta from 1982 until 1990.

In October 1994, then US President Mr Bill Clinton, along with then President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela, established the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund and named Mr Young as its chairperson.

The fund was established to provide funding to help small- and medium-size indigenous businesses throughout southern Africa. Since leaving political office in 1989, Mr Young has established or served in a large number of organisations founded on public policy, political lobbying and international relations, with a special focus on Africa.

We are proud to honour Mr Andrew Jackson Young with the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver for his contribution in championing the cause of liberation of South Africa, and his role in the Anti-Apartheid Movement.