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Meet Andrew Young U.S.Ambassador to the United Nations.

[[image - black & white photograph of Andrew Young having a discussion with a lady]]

On January 3, 1973, Andrew Young answered his first roll call in the House of Representatives. It was an historic occasion. Not a single Black from the deep South had been elected to Congressional office since Reconstruction.

In the four years since he reinstated the Southern Black presence on Capitol Hill, Young—a 44 year old ordained Congregationalist minister—has attained a stature in American politics that can only be described as phenomenal. In Democratic precincts from Harlem to Palm Beach, he is credited—more than anyone else—with helping James Earl Carter Jr. capture the Presidency.

And as Carter, a peanut farmer from rural Southwest Georgia, makes his Washington debut, Young may be the new President's closest tie with Congress. More than once, Carter has said that the Georgia Congressman is the only Democrat with a negotiable I.O.U.

Young has repeatedly earned his passage to Washington by outpacing white opponents in Atlanta's predominantly white 5th Congressional District. Immediately after his first victory, he was hailed as a symbol of a changing South. Indeed, that region was still in its early stages of metamorphosis and Young could claim a major role in helping reshape it.

A top-ranking deputy to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the turbulent 1960s, Young skillfully negotiated scores of desegregation agreements with white officials in some of the most resistant Southern communities. On that record alone, Young first asked Atlanta voters to send him to Congress in 1970. He was rebuffed, but refused to wallow in his defeat. He simply worked harder to build a broad coalition of white liberal and Black support, enabling him to win handily two years later. 

"I have always hated to lose," says Young, who rarely failed to win concessions from the white power structure when he went to the negotiations for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). 

"He was not the most capable person in King's inner circle," one former SCLC worker recalls. "In fact, you might say that he was rather average. But he was blessed with an even temper and an almost uncanny appreciation of the white Southern mentality. He was capable of turtling the most die hard segregationists around." 

Some people might argue that Young's seeming ability to penetrate the Southern redneck psyche is not extraordinary. He was, after all, born and bred in the once racially hostile environment of New Orleans. It is possible that he, like many Southern Blacks, believes that he understands his white compatriots much better than those whites understand themselves.

Old truisms notwithstanding, Young has — within a very short time — become the nation's most astute practitioner of the politics of conciliation.He has managed to hold onto his Congressional seat by convincing a large contingent of the whites in his district that their interests are inextricably bound with those of the Blacks. "I'm basically a segregationist," says one white Atlanta businessman who, for the first time, voted for Young in the recent election. "But segregation is bad for business. I'm wise enough now to acknowledge that young and people like our mayor [Maynard Jackson] have prevented this city from coming apart at the seams. Let's face it. Atlanta is 51 percent Black and I can think of only a few white politicians who are equipped psychologically or ideologically to perpetuate racial harmony."

In the city's Black community, Andy — as he is popularly known — can do no wrong. But he has not always enjoyed such good fortune. Blacks gave him only lukewarm support when he made his first congressional bid. "Our folks didn't think I could win," he recalls. "They didn't think the time was right. Many of them felt that a vote for me would've been a wasted vote."

Young guards his current good standing in the Black community ever so carefully. He knows that Atlanta's Black electorate can be frightfully erratic. Blacks were willing to take a chance on him in 1972, and he proved that he could indeed win. Those same Black voters would not have been reluctant however, to withdraw their support in the next election had they detected the slightest bit of insensitivity to their collective concerns. They were — and remain — capable of bringing his political career to a halt.

Mindful of the single fact, young Israeli out of touch with his Black constituency. He preaches regularly in Atlanta's Black churches and keeps an open door at his district office. Always, there is a steady stream of visitors. Some of them seek assistance in cutting the bureaucratic red tape of various governmental agencies. Others are simply trying to find rent money. Whatever the nature of the complaint, someone is always available — often Young himself — to lend a sympathetic ear.

By employing this kind of old-fashioned Democratic clubhouse approach in handling individual grievances, the soft-spoken and somewhat retiring Congressman has secured a solid grip on his Black support, as he continues to improve his standing among white voters.

On a broader scale, he is an avid booster of Atlanta as "the next great city" and frequently cites its record in attracting new industries and federally-funded programs. "When this city received more than $2 billion in Federal money to build a subway system, it meant the opening up of lot of new jobs, along with numerous opportunities for the business community," he exclaims.

Yet for all of his adroit missing keeping the home fires ablaze, the Congressman apparently had not been prepared to take on the more awesome task that would fall upon his shoulders, following Jimmy Carter's narrow victory over Gerald Ford. Predictably, the nations Black leaders, who had delivered Carter 80 percent of the Black vote, turned to Young and sought his help in articulating their concerns to the new administration. After all, it was at the behest of politicians such as Young and Georgia State Representative Ben Brown — Black voters to "stop Wallace." As a result of the Congressman's efforts, Carter walked off with 70 percent of the Black vote, enough to give him a victory over the old segregationist.

After that Florida win, Young felt
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