Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. was born March 12, 1932 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The son of Andrew Jackson Young, Sr., a dentist and Daisy Fuller Young, a teacher, Young grew up in a hostile multi-ethnic neighborhood where his father taught him how to box for survival. Graduating from Gilbert Academy in 1947, at age fifteen, Young was an avid reader who idolized Dr. Ralph Bunche. Attending Dillard University for a year, Young transferred to Howard University where he was on the track and swim teams. Graduating with a B.S. degree in pre-med in 1951, Young was admitted to Hartford Theological Seminary. In 1952, in Marion, Alabama, he met future wife, Jean Childs, as he pastored summer bible school, studied the works of Ghandi and agitated for voting rights. Later, Young met and befriended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He earned his B.D. degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in 1955.
A product of the United Church of Christ's American Missionary Association (AMA), Young’s first pastorate was at the AMA-founded Bethany Congregational Church in Thomasville, Georgia. In 1957, he went on to the National Council of Churches in New York to work as associate director for youth work and as an administrator for United Church of Christ’s Christian Education Program. Young moved to Atlanta in 1961 and joined the senior staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Young played a key role in negotiating the 1963 Birmingham desegregation agreement. He would do likewise in Selma, Alabama. After Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, Young helped lead the Poor Peoples Campaign. In 1972, he was elected the first black congressman from Georgia since Jefferson Long, serving in the United States House of Representatives until1976. Young was appointed by President Carter as United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1977 to 1979 and was Mayor of the City of Atlanta from 1982 to 1990. He was named chairman of the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund by President Clinton in 1995. In 1996, Young served as chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
In 2003, Young was elected as the twentieth president of the National Council of Churches in New York. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards including the Pax Christi Award from St John's University; the NAACP’s 1970 Springarn Medal; the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981; the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Peace and Justice Award in1991; and the ROBIE Award in 1998. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Young is co-chair of Good Works International and a director of the Drum Major Institute. The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University is one of the country's best policy schools.
Young who is an associate pastor of First Congregational Church in Atlanta, is married to the former Carolyn Watson. He and his first wife, the late Jean Childs Young, have four children, Andrea, Lisa, Paula, and Andrew, III.
Young was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 27, 2005.