American icon Ambassador Andrew Young celebrates his 79th birthday

March, 2011


Photo credit to Susan Ross

Today I was thrilled to help celebrate the birthday of my personal hero, civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young, along with his extended family.

At 79 years young, it seems as though Ambassador Young's journey has just begun.  Today he even swam 80 laps at the Andrew and Walter Young YMCA here in Atlanta, Georgia, one lap for every year of his life (which he does every year), and then a lap for good measure.  Last week he won a national Emmy Award for his Andrew Young Presents series, a feature of the Andrew Young Foundation, run by my friends Andrea Young and CB Hackworth.

A brief history of my personal hero and the Global Spokesman for Operation HOPE, the organization I founded:
  • Right hand and top lieutenant, and chief strategist for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights movement.  In this regard, Young participated as a literal co-founder of the third American Revolution (following America's break from Britain, and America's civil war).
  • First black congressman from the American south since Reconstruction, serving two terms (and on the Banking Committee).
  • America's first black United Nations Ambassador for the United States in the history of the nation.
  • Two-term mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, attracting more than $70 billion of capital to the city.
  • Co-chair and the lead individual responsible for bringing the Atlanta Olympic Games to the city.
  • Individual most responsible for turning Atlanta into the sole international city in the American south.
  • Author of several books, including An Easy Burden and Walk in my Shoes.
  • Recipient of the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as the French Legion Medal.
  • Recipient of more than 100 honorary doctorate degrees.
  • Namesake for the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.
  • Namesake for the Andrew Young School of International Studies at Morehouse College.
  • Founding chairman for the Southern Africa Development Fund and the Africa Channel.
  • Producer of the Andrew Young Presents series on Africa, and recipient of 6 Emmy Awards, including a National Emmy Award by the Emmy Board of Trustees (the highest award given by the Emmys).
  • Chairman of Goodworks International.
  • Father of amazing, accomplished children, a doting grandfather and a committed husband.

 And these are only the accomplishments I can remember.  I am absolutely sure I have missed something obvious and major, but this is the life of one who is a committed and absolute public servant.  This is our "domestic Nelson Mandela." America, and not just Black America, is indeed fortunate to have one Ambassador Andrew Young as a citizen and humble servant of God.  Oh, and did I mention that he is the main reason I decided to move to Atlanta?  A decision I will never regret. What a man....

I am honored and humbled to call him my mentor, my personal hero, and my friend.  I will follow his lead, any day.

Onward with HOPE

John Hope Bryant



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