Four Days of Ambassador Andrew Young’s Birthday Celebration

Author John Ashley

We just had a week that displayed the values and virtues of the New Atlanta by showing reverence to a man that was once considered a troublemaker as the country rolled into the sixties, and forty years later, having buildings named after him is remarkable. We have just experienced four days of celebrations of the life and journey of Ambassador Andrew Young on his 90th birthday. The accomplishment of surviving the dangers of  the civil rights struggles and to keep pushing for civil rights and justice for others well beyond America deserves admiration.

On Friday, March 11th, the “Millennium Gate Museum” held a ribbon cutting for the opening of an exhibit called “The Many Lives of Andrew Young”. 

The exhibition depicts Ambassador Young’s life journey from his childhood days to his religious role as a minister, civil rights activities, Mayor of Atlanta, Congressman, and, among other roles, UN Ambassador. There are photographs and artifacts, including a replication of his business office. Many of the images are included in a coffee table book that was also launched on the night. The 256-page book was designed by Don Bermudez with narration by Ernie Suggs. Rodney Cook expressed his delight in being able to host such an exhibit at the museum, saying that it brings a very local and intimate feel to the city of Atlanta.

The highlight of the evening was an awards gala. The theme of the gala was “Peace and Reconciliation” in honor of Ambassador Young’s 90th birthday. 

The well-attended 2022 Millennium Candler Prize Ceremony gave the Peach Prize honor to Dr. Shin Dae-Yong of Korea, with the Justice Prize given to Ben Adams, Dan Cathy, Clark Durant, and Joe Lonsdale. The Justice Prize honors those who have done strong work in driving social change that benefits all.

Saturday, March 12th, marked the final event of a fourth day of activities in celebration and recognition of the life journey of Ambassador Young. The event, which was sold-out weeks in advance, was held at “The Georgia World Congress Center” to a packed crowd. With the country still in pandemic mode, everyone in attendance was required to be COVID-19 tested before admittance into the ballroom. 

During his remarks from the podium, Governor Kemp, the Governor of Georgia, stated, “It is a privilege to be able to be in the presence of living history” and went on to state, “Andrew Young was the first Black Person to represent Georgia in the US Congress since reconstruction and went on to live an exemplary life, showing what it means to put service to others above self.” The current mayor of Atlanta stated that growing up in the city, the Ambassador represented a hero to him and was his inspiration for getting into civic activities.

There were video tributes provided by Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Stephen Colbert and Lionel Richie; Lionel Richie sang verses of “We are the World” with the audience joining in the rendition. Musical performances were by BeBe Winans, Kathleen Bertrand, Amanda Colleen Williams, Michel Jons and The Wispers. There were well rounded flavors of music entertainment on the night.

Images: Zeriba Media

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