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March 5th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Opinion: A son on living up to the legend of a civil rights hero

Editor's note: Andrew “Bo” Young III is the Chief Executive Officer of GiveLocally.net. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and two children.

By Bo Young, Special to CNN

(CNN) - As the only son of living civil rights legend Andrew Young, I feel a deep obligation, based on my families’ history of struggle and achievement, to make a difference.

In the years since I have become a man - and as my father’s hectic life slowed down - I have had the privilege of hearing directly from him what it was like to be a close confidante to Martin Luther King Jr. I’ve learned how, together, they faced the incredible task of trying to gain equality for all, even in the face of legal and societal obstacles that threatened to - and did - end King’s legacy of non-violence with his murder.

Behind the scenes: 'Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination'

King’s assassination did not stop his work for change. I am extremely lucky that my father, Ambassador Andrew Young, is still living. He is not just my father and now grandfather to my children; he was a direct participant in one of the most historic chapters in our nation’s history.

I confess that even for me, the stories of what my father and those around him faced during the civil rights movement are hard to put into context based on all of the opportunities I - and so many other Americans – have enjoyed as a result of the challenges they overcame.

But I believe that our African-American forefathers would - and do - expect their progeny to seek innovative solutions and apply novel thinking age-old problems like poverty.

We have to build on that legacy; how do we create beyond it?

What worked in 1964 can and should be optimized in 2012.

Feeding the hungry, healing the sick and clothing the naked have always been the basic principles of our society.

Creating jobs, increasing the quality of life and improving education are the paths to increased opportunity, but now more than ever, we need proverbial “out of the box” thinking to help us navigate these difficult roads.

Political and civic leadership are important but they should not be the only ones driving the policymaking and direction of our community today.

I think we should be looking for new leaders and innovative thinkers in all areas: sports, business, academia, entertainment.

Now, I am trying to lead and create in a different way. The change I want to make is via business. I serve as the chief executive officer of GiveLocally.net, a social giving platform that allows givers to choose pre-screened recipients whom they want to assist in their local communities.

I know that at least one legend of the civil rights movement is proud of me - my hero, my father.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrew Young III.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. DH

    blah blah blah blacks blah blah civil rights blah blah blah.........SSDD!

    March 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sandie

    your granddaddy loves that big butt

    March 7, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. July Anne

    Why do people blog, just to show their negative side? Can't people show something positive about themselves, instead of showing stupidity and hate while hiding behind their computer?
    If you do not have something nice to say -it probably is best not to make any comment.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dduke

    I'm jealous of all the pandering and excuses muds get......why????

    March 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Me

    He's virtually white.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Virtually white means his mother was raped by a black

      March 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandie

      I've never seen a white man that good-looking.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. gaines williams

    all the negative comment people, why even read this section at all ? do you just need something to b*&6h about daily? make yourselves feel better maybe? i don't get you types!! just showing ignorance ?

    March 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Ignorance as it doesn't agree with you or kiss the fro??? Please.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan Iverson

      So true. Well said!!

      March 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Ignorance is allowing this fictional race heroics to go on unchecked

      March 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SueEllen

    Wah wah I'm a black man!

    March 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Another black story wow!!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • cindy

      You are pathetic. Obviously, you have had a lucky life immune from any hardships, let alone being denied basic rights. The other option is you're just jealous poor white trash. How can you keep your head buried in the sand? Try to "walk a mile" in another's shoes. Do I need to interpret that for you?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dduke

        Cindy full of hate and assumption.....mud shark

        March 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |