This powerful activist and friend of Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Louisiana, in 1932, amidst the Great Depression and the Jim Crow Segregation. After college and seminary, Young became the pastor of Bethany Congregational Church in Georgia. At Bethany, Pastor Young constructed a road that would lead to great places, beginning with the organization of voter registration drives and the education of young African Americans on the importance of civil rights. Brought up in a successful middle-class family, Young took seriously the principle that teaches "from those to whom much has been given, much will be required," and has always spoken of the joy it has been to live a life of activism. In the 1960's, in Atlanta, Georgia, Young worked for Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and was a key player in the Citizenship Schools program that educated students on civic issues on a grander scale. Young was largely involved in the Civil Rights Campaigns in Selma and Birmingham that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. After King's assassination, the African American community floundered, and Young became their political mouthpiece. In 1972, he acquired a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. As one of the first black southerners in Congress in the twentieth century, Young fought the increase of the military budget and focused his efforts on the advocacy of the poor and working class Americans. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter named Young the Ambassador to the United Nations. Here Young could work on an international level, helping Carter revolutionize the basis of American foreign policy, making human rights the central focus across the world. In the 1980's Young went back to Atlanta and became the mayor. It was Young's campaigns for voter registration that provided African American candidates a ladder of advancement for generations to come. Without the wave of civic education that Young began in the South, the civil rights movement would have lacked the democratic participation and internal passion necessary to succeed.
"In a world where change is inevitable and continuous, the need to achieve that change without violence is essential for survival."
"Influence is like a savings account. The less you use it, the more you've got."