Jessica White | Staff Writer
Andrew Young grew up in New Orleans with an Irish grocery store on one corner, an Italian bar on another and the Nazi party headquarters on a third. By elementary school, he said, he had been nurtured by global thinking and felt comfortable in a culture of diversity.
Since then, Young — the former mayor of Atlanta, Ga., United States congressman and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — has worked as top aid to Martin Luther King Jr., traveled to more than 160 countries, received honorary degrees from more than 60 institutions and founded GoodWorks International, an organization that helps economic development in the Caribbean and Africa. He will discuss his global vision at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Hall of Philosophy.
“I’m trying to do something that is much more ambitious than I would normally do with an audience,” he said. “But, I think that Chautauqua is an exceptional audience. They’re exceptionally sensitive, and tolerant and forgiving, but also very visionary.”
Young’s lecture is titled “I Dream a World — that Works!,” and he will discuss society’s lack of and need for a global vision, as well as how to establish one. He said he will not write a script and probably will not even use notes; he will speak from experience and heart.
Throughout his political career, Young said, he worked with many politicians who had Euro-centric or American-centric policies and views. Unfortunately, he said, that still prevails in much of the U.S. State Department.
“Even though we’re now much more sensitive to the rest of the world, we don’t have a vision or a model of what we want the world to be,” he said. “Nobody has to agree with me, but I think (a global vision) is something that a group like Chautauqua ought to be thinking about.”
Several of the ideals Young will talk about he implemented on a small scale as mayor of Atlanta, which rose to its international reputation under his leadership. During his two terms in the 1980s, Young brought in 1,100 new businesses, $70 billion in private investments and more than 1 million new jobs.
“If we can begin to think of one world as we’ve gotten (Atlanta) to think about one community — where everybody is a part of it — then I think that there are no limits to what we can do,” he said.
His diplomacy has been sought after and honored throughout the world, but Young, an ordained minister, said his favorite and most meaningful role is being a pastor. When he graduated from Hartford Seminary in 1955, he said, he planned to do missionary work in Africa, but found himself focused on the civil rights movement — which led him into politics.
“When I went to Congress, I saw Congress as one big church. Same with the UN,” he said. “I really pastored the ambassadors of the world, and I find that model of pastoral leadership is a very effective one. I’m really just a preacher, trying to develop a global vision that all of us might be able to buy into a little bit and make it happen.”