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Andrew Young made history this week when President Jimmy Carter appointed him the first Black ambassador to the United Nations in 1976. The appointment took place on December 16, ending a promising career in the U.S. Congress but setting Young up for even greater achievements.

Born March 12, 1932, in New Orleans, Young was a youth pastor in his early career. As a young man, Young grew up with the privilege of educated parents. His father was a dentist and his mother was a schoolteacher. As a boy, Young was given boxing lessons by a professional fighter so that he and his brother could defend themselves.

Young and his first wife, Jean, moved to New York where the couple wanted to minister to urban youth. Young worked as a television preacher while in the city as well. It was then Young became attracted to the rising Civil Rights Movement, joining the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1960.

Through his involvement with SCLC, Young became close with the group’s leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Young was with King the night the leader was assassinated in 1968. Young entered politics shortly after in 1970 with an unsuccessful attempt run at the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Georgia.

In 1972, however, he won a congressional seat and was re-elected in 1974 and 1976. Young’s 1977 ended his time in Congress, but he left a mark as a rising star of the Democratic Party and his reputation as a fair but focused politician served him well in his new role.

Young was then elected in 1981 as the mayor of Atlanta, serving in that post until 1990. Young implemented a series of programs in the city and helped expand some of the popular programs Maynard Jackson began during his tenure.

A failed gubernatorial bid in 1990 ended Young’s time in elected politics, but he has continued to serve in various capacities over the years. In that time, Young has authored three books and has won countless awards recognizing his contributions to politics and civic service.

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