Andrew Young’s Campaigns

By Cheryl Oestreicher, Project Archivist, Andrew J. Young Papers, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History

“Working for Freedom: Documenting Civil Rights Organizations” is a collaborative project between Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, and The Robert W. Woodruff Library of Atlanta University Center to uncover and make available previously hidden collections documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and New Orleans. The project is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each organization regularly contributes blog posts about their progress.

For more information about the collection described in this post, please contact the Archives at Auburn Avenue Research Library, aarl [dot] archives [at] fultoncountyga [dot] gov

Forty years ago, Andrew Young conducted his first political campaign by running for Congress in 1970. Though he lost that year to incumbent Fletcher Thompson, in 1972 Young was the first African-American from the Deep South elected to Congress since Reconstruction. Throughout his political career, Young conducted seven political campaigns: Congress in 1970, 1972, 1974, and 1976; Mayor of Atlanta in 1981 and 1985; and Governor of Georgia in 1990. His name lent to catchy slogans including “Think Young,” “Keep Young,” “I’ve Got Young Ideas,” “Young Ideas for Atlanta,” “Young for Atlanta,” “Andy Young Working for Georgia,” “Belafonte is a Young Believer,” and “I’m a Young Lover.”

Above:  Georgia State University students, 1972.  Click image to enlarge. Above:  “Black Slate,” 1981.  Click image to enlarge.

In addition to his 1972 landmark victory, Young’s campaigns had other notable events. Harry Belafonte organized the first fundraiser for Young’s 1970 congressional campaign, and was involved in several other of his campaigns. His first wife Jean Childs Young organized the first political campaign in Atlanta geared towards women when she started “Women for Andrew Young.” Formed during his 1970 congressional campaign, the group reconvened for all his subsequent campaigns. During the 1976 campaign, Young supported Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, winning him much support from the African-American community and the election.

Political campaigns are more than just politics. Primarily, they give insight into Young’s views and goals for elected office, and especially how they changed (or did not change). There is also insight into his supporters – who they were, why they supported him, and how they were involved. Additionally, the twenty years of campaigns show how local and regional campaigns were conducted, local and regional issues, voter demographics, voter registrations, other candidates, and media representation.

Above:  Gubernatorial campaign memorabilia, 1990.

The Andrew J. Young Papers contain speeches, interviews, press releases, articles, correspondence, reports, campaign manuals, photographs, buttons, fliers, brochures, bumper stickers, posters, and audio-visual material from his campaigns. The Andrew J. Young Papers are currently closed to researchers and are expected to be open in late 2010. The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History is the first library of its kind in the southeast offering specialized reference and archival collections for the study and research of African cultures. For more information visit our website.

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