When the citizens of Georgia elected Andrew Young to the US House of Representatives in 1972, there had not been a Black congressperson elected from Georgia since Jefferson Franklin Long in 1871.
Young, a New Orleans native, moved from Washington, DC to Atlanta in 1961 to participate in a voter education program. While in Atlanta, he organized a citizenship training program for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Through his work with the SCLC, he became close with Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. In his role at SCLC, Young honed mediation methods and navigated many delicate legislative negotiations. King named Young as executive director of the SCLC in 1964. It was in this position that Young facilitated logistical and legal support for the Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.
Young ran for Congress in 1970 and lost. Overcoming this setback, he chaired Atlanta’s Community Relations Commission for two years. During that time, Young was able to make himself more familiar with the political climate of Georgia’s 5th District and introduced him to many of the area’s constituents.
When he entered the race once again in 1972, he campaigned fiercely against development along the Chattahoochee River, introduced a plan to improve the education system, and was an outspoken advocate of integration at all levels of public office. He also used mailers like the one above to canvas the 5th district.
Young would be elected for three consecutive terms to the US House of Representatives. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Young as the US Ambassador to the United Nations. He later served two terms as Mayor of Atlanta, where he continues to serve.
Learn more about Ambassador Andrew Young in our exhibition, Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta, and online in Atlanta in 50 Objects.