Cuyahoga County

Civil rights icon Andrew Young to keynote 2nd Stephanie Tubbs Jones Black History Month Celebration


Cleveland – The Rev. Andrew Young, a close friend and confidant of Dr.  Martin Luther King who later served as a Congressman, U.N. Ambassador and Mayor of Atlanta, will keynote the second annual Stephanie Tubbs Jones Black History Month Celebration on February 18.

“This brilliant, courageous, and intelligent man has stood for right and for Civil Rights for all people,” the late writer Maya Angelou said of Rev. Young when his memoir “Walk in My Shoes” was published in 2011. “He was brave, he was loving, and he was there. Thank God he lived to tell about it.”

Rev. Young will speak in Grand Ballroom C at the new Cleveland Convention Center. The Stephanie Tubbs Jones Black History Month Celebration, organized by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and open to the public, begins at 2 p.m.

Admission is free, but because seating is limited, advance registration is encouraged. To register, please visit and click on the event poster under the “In the Community” banner on the homepage.

This year’s Black History Month event will also pay tribute to one of Rev. Young’s former congressional colleagues, the late Louis B. Stokes. Congressman Stokes, who died last summer, was honored on his 90th birthday at last year’s inaugural Stephanie Tubbs Jones event. He died in August.

“By challenging America to live up to its ideals, Rev. Young and the Civil Rights Movement blazed the trail for Stephanie Tubbs Jones and for the generation of leaders who came after them. All of us have benefited from that,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. “Last year we heard from Clarence Jones, who was Dr. King’s lawyer and speechwriter, and from Cleveland’s own Louis Stokes, both of them part of American history. It was inspiring. And now, we will hear from another giant of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Congresswoman Jones, who died in 2008, was the first African American to serve as Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. She held the office from 1991 until 1999 when she succeeded Congressman Stokes in the House of Representatives. Earlier in her career, the future Congresswoman Jones had been an assistant county prosecutor and a judge on both the Cleveland Municipal Court and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court benches.

Andrew Jackson Young Jr. was born in New Orleans in 1932, the son of a teacher and a dentist. He graduated from Howard University and from Hartford Seminary. In 1955, the newly ordained United Church of Christ minister was appointed pastor of a church in Marion, Alabama, and began encouraging black residents to register to vote. This brought death threats, but Rev. Young did not stop. He formed a friendship with Dr. King, a young minister from Montgomery who shared his commitment to civil rights and to nonviolence.

“My daddy told me you don't get mad in a struggle. You get smart,” Rev. Young told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2013. “He said racism and white supremacy is a sickness. You don't get angry with sick people. You need to understand them and you need to help them understand you.”

By 1960, Rev. Young had joined Dr. King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and become part of his inner circle. As a behind the scenes negotiator, Rev. Young excelled at hammering out agreements with white business and political leaders. As front-line leader of the movement, he endured jail and violence. One of the iconic photos of the 1960s shows Rev. Young on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, pointing toward where the assassin had fired; Dr. King lies mortally wounded at his feet.

Rev. Young was elected to Congress from Georgia in 1972. President Jimmy Carter appointed him Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977. Four years later, the voters of Atlanta elected him mayor. At City Hall, he helped attract billions in private investment, played host to the 1988 Democratic Convention and spearheaded Atlanta’s successful bid for the 1996 Olympics.

Since leaving politics, Rev. Young has been an international business consultant, headed the National Council of Churches, taught at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and won an Emmy Award for lifetime achievement for his “Andrew Young Presents” documentary series.

“There’s no problem on the planet that can’t be solved without violence. That’s the lesson of the civil rights movement,” he said in 2013. “We made democracy — which is a substitute for violence — work.”

This year’s Stephanie Tubbs Jones Black History Month Celebration is co-sponsored by Adcom, the Cleveland chapter of the Black Prosecutors Association, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall School of Law, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Cuyahoga County Council, Cuyahoga County Executive, the Federal Bar Association, Forest City Realty Trust, FSM Capital Management, Lightning Demolition & Excavation, Norman S. Minor Bar Association, Ozanne Construction, Parker Hannifin, PNC Bank, Squire Patton Boggs and the Third Federal Foundation.

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: 216.443.7488 or