AMBASSADOR ANDREW YOUNG REIGNITES THE SPIRIT OF HOPE
Ambassador Andrew Young has created a legacy of leadership and it was an honor to witness and document such a beautiful tribute in celebration of his 85th birthday. On Saturday, June 3rd, the 2017 Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards, recognizing and honoring those who have also transformed lives across the globe, was held at Atlanta’s Philips Arena and became a mecca for those traveling from near and far to join in the celebration of Young.
Anthony Anderson, star of ABC's "Black-ish," was the perfect host for the star-studded evening, which included tribute performances from Usher, Jill Scott, Wyclef Jean, Angie Stone, Estelle, gospel artist Anthony Brown and more! Each of the artists performed with such passion and gratitude in honor of Ambassador young. The energy was high and Anderson kept us laughing the entire night!
The awards are part of efforts by the Andrew J. Young Foundation, which it’s founder and namesake continues to chair, to encourage individuals to work in inspiring ways toward a better world. The gala’s theme was "Lead Young," highlighting the foundation's commitment to supporting and developing emerging leaders.
"Changing the world happens one step at a time, through acts of leadership and courage," said Ambassador Young, as the climactic event approached. "It is the work of generations, with progress made possible by those who pass on the lessons learned from both successes and setbacks, and most importantly, the necessary knowledge that positive change is indeed possible."
Among the recipients was former Vice President Joseph Biden, who received the Chairman’s Award for his lifelong, exceptional leadership in areas that reflect Ambassador Young's life work. Biden’s lifetime of contributions to his country have also earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.
"I value an award based upon the organization giving the award," Biden said. "This is one of the most consequential awards I've ever been given."
Other honorees included:
Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland, National Co-Chairs of the Women's March on Washington for inspiring and organizing a worldwide outpouring of positive civic engagement;
Ron Clark, for creating a transformational school that models teaching excellence and nurtures future leaders, and opens its doors to share those strategies with thousands of other educators;
Activist, commentator, and Dream Corps founder Van Jones, for promoting human rights and police accountability and helping young people fill jobs, not jails;
Singer, songwriter, rapper and producer Akon, whose Akon Lighting Africa project is using small-scale solar energy systems and street lights to bring transformational change to communities in Africa whose development has been harmed by lack of electricity.
It was so exciting to celebrate and interview many of the guest as they arrived for the red carpet. Among them was Atlanta native and Fox 5 News reporter Aungelique Proctor, who shared how excited she was to be there.
Proctor knows what it means to earn awards, with three Emmy's, the Associated Press Best Newscast and National Association of Black Journalists award. The busy mom also loves to volunteer, so she knows how much it takes to make a sustainable difference. She had high praise for all Young had done for her hometown and people around the world. We also had some fun and laughs after interviews were done with other guests, such as award-winning actress Terri J. Vaughn, who also directs and produces, and has three NAACP Image Awards, Anthony Anderson, before he rushed down to start the show, Trina Braxton, and more!
From eager anticipation, it became an evening full of a beautiful spirit and energy, with a funny, relaxed tone set by the affable Anderson. He is definitely a natural and each of the honorees spoke from a space of humble respect and gratitude.
Although Akon was not able to attend he provided a heartfelt message stating that this meant so much to him and would probably be the most special award he will receive in his lifetime.
There is much to live up to. Young's first chance to make a difference was in his community, as a young pastor. From there, his influence expanded as he joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement and served as director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Young was an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and executive director of the His political career included serving as a U.S. Congressman from Georgia, United States Ambassador to the United Nations and Mayor of Atlanta. Young has founded and served in a large number of organizations working on issues of public policy and political lobbying.
The videos of Ambassador Young’s life and his sacrifices was so inspiring, I personally feel it reinvigorated us to think about how our lives and work impact humanity. While we were there to celebrate Ambassador Andrew Young, his heart and vision left a lifetime impression on all of us. It was as if he was lighting a torch for many years to come. Thank you Ambassador Young.
Tierra Destiny Reid is the CEO of TDR Brands International, author of 'The Power of Peace in a Pause, emerging media contributor, Oprah Winfrey Network Ambassador, and servant leader who is passionate about sharing her personal setbacks and successes to educate and empower our community. With a huge heart and gratitude for those before her \, she has dedicated years of service to be a bridge for others and is on a mission to continue the legacy of the leaders and trailblazers who have paved the way.