ACLU of Georgia

Andrea Young attends ACLU of Mass. Bill of Rights Dinner

Young’s father, Ambassador Andrew J. Young, honored for pioneering civil rights worldwide

by Jerzy Shedlock

Executive Director Andrea Young  attended the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts’ annual Bill of Rights Dinner last week, during which her father Ambassador Andrew J. Young was honored as a champion of civil and human rights for his work here in Georgia and nationally. 

The event, which celebrates the ACLU of Massachusetts’ work of fighting for immigrants’ rights, racial justice, voting rights, LGBTQ equality, and more, was a chance to gather again, after some time apart. More than 800 attendees convened at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston for the event; a hybrid option was offered for supporters who wanted to participate from home.

The ACLU of Massachusetts chose Ambassador Andrew Young as their honoree due, in part, to the recognition he’s earned worldwide as a pioneer of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement. Ambassador Young’s lifelong dedication to service is clearly illustrated by his extensive leadership experience of over 65 years, serving as a member of Congress, a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, mayor of Atlanta, and an ordained minister.

Pictured from left, Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia; Ambassador Andrew J. Young, civil rights leader; and Andrea’s husband, Jerry Thomas, an attorney and former chairman of the Fulton County Arts Council.

Additionally, during the 1960s, “Young was a key strategist and negotiator during Civil Rights campaigns that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” ACLU of Massachusetts noted.

In his remarks, Ambassador Young credited the ACLU and ACLU lawyers Chuck Morgan and Laughlin McDonald for his successful race to become the first Black congressperson from the Deep South since Reconstruction.

“The Georgia Legislature drew my southwest Atlanta neighborhood out of the 5th Congressional District and put me in a district with Newnan. The ACLU intervened using the Voting Rights Act, and I was able to run in a District comprising of the city where I live and where more than 30% of the voters were Black.”

The dinner also featured Nikole Hannah-Jones as its keynote speaker. Hannah-Jones is the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of ‘The 1619 Project’ and a writer at The New York Times Magazine who has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice. Named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, she serves as the Knight Chair of Race and Journalism at Howard University, where she is founding the Center for Journalism & Democracy.

“The journey of creating The 1619 Project and specifically writing an essay on democracy, was a deeply emotional journey for me …To me, the whole project is a love song to our people, Black people, and the country we built,” Hannah-Jones told the crowd. 

She added: “What makes a project dangerous when all it is doing is telling history that has already been well documented? The danger of it is that the 1619 Project permeated that membrane between the academy and public and popular understanding.”

ACLU of Georgia is grateful to have participated in the dinner. For information about ACLU of Georgia events, view our calendar here.

Jerzy Shedlock (he/him) is a communications specialist at the ACLU of Georgia.

Pictured from left, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of ‘The 1619 Project’ and Knight Chair of Race and Journalism at Howard University; Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia; and ACLU Board Chair Debra Archer.