By M. Alexis Scott (www.atlantadailyworld.com)
Nearly 100 family and friends traveled to Washington, D.C., last weekend to join Ambassador and Mrs. Andrew Young and the Andrew Young Foundation for a weekend celebration honoring the installation of Young’s likeness into the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian.
The weekend began with a reception at The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, hosted by The Coca-Cola Company, on Friday night, followed by a tour of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, still under construction, on Saturday morning. The whirlwind weekend also included a conversation with Young and Jack H. Watson Jr., former chief of staff for former President Jimmy Carter and now chair of the National Portrait Gallery.
The formal induction of the portrait came Saturday night with both Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Fulton County Chairman John Eaves in attendance.
There were many poignant and moving speeches made throughout the weekend. Tributes came to Young from fellow Carter Cabinet member Alexis Herman, the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor, William H. Gray, former chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, Alexander Cummings, chief administrative officer of The Coca-Cola Company and Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Memorial Project.
Young said he was amazed by the portrait by Atlanta-based artist Ross R. Rossin because he says he never really sat for it.
“I visited his gallery,” Young said. “We talked for a while and he was taking a lot of pictures. I guess I sat down for a few minutes, but that was it.” Some time later, Young said Rossin invited him back out to look at some sketches. “I couldn’t believe it.”
At the installation, Rossin said he wanted to capture Young’s persona as well as his likeness. “He has a comforting, positive presence,” Rossin said. “I am immensely honored to have had this opportunity.”
Young, who’s as well known for his sense of humor as he is for his courage, quipped, “When I think about all the times I could have been hung in Alabama or Mississippi, I’m glad I’m hanging here (in the National Portrait Gallery).