Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA – Former President Bill Clinton called Andrew Young a profoundly good man as hundreds paid tribute to the civil rights legend in honor of his 75th birthday.

"You were given by God great gifts," Clinton said. "Many people have gifts. The test is what you do with them and whether you care about others who deserve their chance in life, who either don’t have your gifts or didn’t have your opportunities."

"You have done well and we would be well served if you would hang around for another 75 years," he said. "Thank you for who you are, thank you for what you’ve done. Thank you for being my friend."

Young was ebullient on the occasion, twirling a silver and gold umbrella and bouncing along in a raucous second-line, a tribute to his New Orleans roots. About 1,400 people came out to celebrate with him – including Clinton, poet Maya Angelou and comedian Dick Gregory – at a $500-per-plate black-tie dinner and fundraiser for the Andrew Young Foundation.

Young, who turned 75 on March 12, was lauded for his role in the civil rights movement, as a U.N. ambassador and as mayor of Atlanta. He was also praised for a legacy that is still being written, as he continued to champion democracy, peace and prosperity for people around the world more than four decades after his friend, Martin Luther King Jr., was killed.

Angelou, who was also an SCLC lieutenant recruited in 1959 by King, was coquettish in her recollections of younger Young.

"Each time he spoke, the bells rang," Angelou said. "Each time he appeared, he brought the dignity, the sincerity, the devotion and the dedication of African-Americans brought here in 1619."

She thanked him for being a brother and recited her poem, "And Still I Rise."

Young also received several video tributes, including well-wishes from Martin Luther King II, Kenny Rogers, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Shaquille O’Neal, Lebron James, Dikembe Mutombo, Magic Johnson, rapper Lil’ Jon and Rwandan dance troujpe URUKEREREZA performed as a gift from the country’s president, Paul Kagame.

Pin It on Pinterest