In the decades since Andrew Young helped change the course of history as a leader in the Civil Rights movement, he has built a remarkable legacy as a civic activist, elected official, groundbreaking ambassador, social entrepreneur, and adviser to presidents. Today, he leads the Andrew J. Young Foundation’s efforts to develop and support new generations of visionary leaders who will create sustainable global approaches to economic development, poverty alleviation, and the challenge of hunger.
Young attended segregated schools in New Orleans and graduated early from Howard University before attending Hartford Theological Seminary. It was during his time as a pastor in southern Georgia that he became active in the Civil Rights movement, organizing voter registration drives in 1954 in the face of death threats. After a few years with the National Council of Churches in New York, he returned to Georgia in 1961 to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s “citizenship schools,” working closely with Dr. King to teach non-violent organizing strategies. He was a key strategist and negotiator during campaigns that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In 1972, Young was elected to Congress, becoming the first African-American representative from the Deep South since Reconstruction. He sponsored 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 (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), the Atlanta highway system and a new international airport for Atlanta.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Young to serve as the nation’s first African-American Ambassador to the United Nations. Young was an architect of the first U.S. Africa policy grounded in human rights rather than simply cold war calculus, and he helped negotiate an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Young was instrumental in the building of modern-day Atlanta. He was elected Mayor in 1981 and re-elected in 1985 with nearly 85 percent of the vote. Hartsfield International Airport, whose development he championed, made it possible for Atlanta to attract 1,100 new businesses, $70 billion in foreign direct investment, and 1 million new jobs to the region during his tenure. It is now the busiest airport in the world. The city hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1988. Young also led the successful effort to bring the 1996 Olympic Games to Atlanta.
Young’s involvement with Africa has continued in the years since his term as ambassador. President Bill Clinton appointed him founding chair of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund, and in 1996 he co-founded Good Works International, where for more than 15 years he promoted an approach to sustainable economic development in Africa and the Caribbean grounded in profitability and social responsibility. Through the Andrew J. Young Foundation and its partnerships with international agencies and the private sector, he continues to focus on expanding educational opportunity as well as innovative approaches to alleviating hunger and poverty in the U.S. and abroad.
Young is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion d’Honneur and has received honorary degrees from more than 100 colleges and universities.
Young was born in 1932 in New Orleans, and he currently lives in Atlanta with his wife, Carolyn McClain Young.. He is also a father of three daughters and one son, and a grandfather of eight
Marc H. Morial, who has been described as one of the few national leaders to possess “street smarts”, and “boardroom savvy”, is the current President and CEO of the National Urban League, the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization.
He served as the highly successful and popular Mayor of New Orleans as well as the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He previously was a Louisiana State Senator, and was a lawyer in New Orleans with an active, high profile practice.
He is a leading voice on the national stage in the battle for jobs, education, housing and voting rights equity.
A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Pennsylvania, he has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine, one of the top 50 Non Profit Leaders by the Non Profit Times, one of the 100 Most Influential Black Lawyers in America and he has also been inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, GA.
Depelsha Thomas McGruder, Founder and President of MOBB UNITED, is a media and entertainment executive living in Brooklyn, NY. Depelsha spent 17 years at Viacom (MTV and BET Networks) in Strategy & Operations, Business Development and Programming. She's also a former strategy management consultant and began her career as a local TV journalist.
However, the founding of MOBB United came from a personal space. After watching the viral videos of the killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and numerous other Black males before them, Depelsha wanted to vent. But where? How? She invited about 30 of her close friends whom she knew also were worried about the safety of their Black sons to join a private Facebook group. This Facebook group would be a refuge for them to speak about the unique challenges and dangers their children faced, particularly when it came to encounters with law enforcement. Within an hour or two, there were 1,000 members. By the end of the day, more than 21,000 moms from all across the country had joined the group.
Two years later, there are more than 180,000+ members and what started as a Facebook group has now evolved into two non-profit organizations that are working together to change policies and perceptions impacting Black boys and men. Depelsha is married and has two sons, ages 10 and 6. Depelsha is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Links, Inc. In 2011, she was selected for The Network Journal's "40 Under Forty Achievers Award." Depelsha graduated first in her class with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from Howard University and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Melinda Alexis-Hayes is a legacy member of the Brooklyn Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Melinda learned from an early age the importance of the popular saying “plant a tree under whose shade you will never sit.” In her first year of membership she served as an age group chair. In the following year Ms. Alexis-Hayes chaired the chapter’s Policy and Procedures committee. When called to run for Financial Secretary she answered the call for service, and again answered the call to be the chapter’s Program Director, then two term Chapter President.
While serving as Chapter President Melinda served Jack and Jill of America, Inc., organization as the National Legislative Chair leading the National Legislative Committee which developed the Legislative 5 A platform, Align, Activate, Advocate, Act and Acknowledge, which is still used today. Her commitment to the organization and to excellence is fueled by all children, her sister mother members, her two lovely daughters, and loving husband.
Currently, Ms. Alexis- Hayes is the Eastern Regional Director for Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Melinda earned her Bachelors of Arts Degree in English from Spelman College and her Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law. She serves as a prosecutor in a New York State District Attorney’s Office. She lives in a Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.
May her work find favor in his sight.
ANDREW YOUNG AND THE MAKING OF MODERN ATLANTA tells the story of the decisions that shaped Atlanta's growth from a small, provincial Deep South city to an international metropolis impacting and influencing global affairs. When Mayor William Hartsfield coined the term "City too Busy to Hate" in the 1950s, who would have imagined that within fifty years Atlanta would have the world's busiest airport, rank as the eighth largest metropolitan area in the United States or, that this once racially-segregated city would host the Centennial Olympic Games and play host to the world in 1996?
Andrew Young arrived in Atlanta in 1961 and has played a key role in Atlanta's development ever since--in the Civil Rights Movement, as the city's representative in Congress, and as Mayor. The authors have woven this perspective with archival material, media accounts, and the reflections of scores of other key elected officials, community, business, and civic leaders, and civil servants on the making of modern Atlanta.