Andrew Young to Give UNC's MLK Address

Andrew YoungCivil rights activist and statesman Andrew Young will give the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture at Carolina.

Young — who was an aide to King, a congressman and a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — will speak at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in Memorial Hall on Cameron Avenue. The free public program will begin with a scholarship presentation. Then Jack Boger ’74 (JD), law school dean and Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor, and UNC senior Amber Koonce will engage Young in conversation.

“We’re pleased to bring to Carolina someone who as a young leader marched side by side with Dr. King and rose through the ranks of the social justice and civil rights movements and beyond,” said Terri Houston, interim chief diversity officer in UNC’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

“In light of national action groups, such as Occupy and international movements activated by social media, Ambassador Young will offer provocative thoughts on how the movements of yesterday impact the movements of today while sharing personal stories of his life as Dr. King’s protegee,” she said.

The lecture will highlight the 2012 MLK Week Celebration at Carolina. This year’s theme is “The Time is Now: Our Legacy, Our Future.” A schedule of activities is available online.

Young, 79, was born in New Orleans to a dentist and a school teacher. He graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1951 and then earned a divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut. He became pastor of Bethany Congregational Church in Thomasville, Ga., where he immersed himself in the civil rights movement.

Young left Thomasville in 1961 to work for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and became executive director. He helped organize voter registration and desegregation campaigns in towns including Albany, Ga.; Birmingham and Selma, Ala.; and Washington, D.C. He was with King when the civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.

Young was elected three times to the U.S. House, the first African-American to win a seat from Georgia since Reconstruction. Young became noted for championing poor and working-class Americans and opposing efforts to increase military budgets.

He supported the 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, and in 1977 Carter named Young ambassador to the United Nations. Young was forced to resign the post in 1979 after he met with a Palestinian Liberation Organization representative. At that time, the organization was considered a terrorist group and U.S. officials were officially forbidden to meet with its members.

Young returned to Atlanta and in 1981 was elected the city’s mayor. Today he is a professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

Those planning to attend the Jan. 17 lecture must pick up free tickets at the Memorial Hall box office (919-843-3333), open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. The office will close from 5 p.m. Dec. 23 until 10 a.m. Jan. 2. UNC students who show UNC One Cards may get two tickets per card — two cards allowed per student. Others may get two tickets per person.

For more information about the lecture, call (919) 962-6962 or visit

Share via: