Friday, April 2, 2010 I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at Jean Childs Young Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia. It was an amazing moment that I hope to never forget. Growing up reading and learning about Mrs. Jean Childs Young and the love for humanity that she shared with the world brought everything full circle when I stepped foot on the campus that has been re-born to celebrate and honor her life and legacy. She lived an amazing life helping others help themselves; opening her home and heart during and after the Civil Rights Movement, and giving people hope and a sense of self-confidence.
I remember thinking how strong, loving (of others and of self); intelligent, courageous, and joyful a woman would have to be in order to be married to a man of such intensity as the great Ambassador Andrew Young. I never was blessed with the opportunity to meet this phenomenal woman I had read about in high school and college, but the stories shared of those who love her, seeing the programs and institutions she helped build, she is here today and I get to connect to a small piece of her…indeed a blessing!
Attending the ceremony on Friday also gave me the opportunity to meet some of the people who knew her for well over 30 years. To see how touched they were by the speeches, musical selections from the school’s jazz band, and a trio of young ladies that sang a song reflecting on what Mrs. Young’s legacy meant to them warmed my heart.
A passionate speech from daughter Andrea Young, a dance performed by former student Ashlee Rouse, and a breathtaking poem by a group of students made me believe that this school represents the vision that Mrs. Young had for public education and the opportunities that Black children need in order to compete globally.
A school where leadership, character and scholarship is developed fully in each child, and where her motto, her belief, that “every child is a gifted child” can be instilled in the educators, parents, students, and the surrounding community. This is clearly evident at Jean Childs Young Middle School. The campus is beautiful, and the students have a sense of pride in their school and in their role as our future leaders. The program was presided over by a sixth grader, Aja Crosson and seventh grader, Geramy Perriman whose intellect and demeanor mirrored that of students several years older.
Mayor Kasim Reed even took notice of the leadership qualities within young Geramy who commanded all of our attention just with his powerful voice and presence on the stage. Mayor Reed mentioned how when he was a youngster Ambassador Young told him (when he was the presiding Mayor of Atlanta) that one day he too could have the honor and privilege of being a mayor. Mayor Reed said the same to Geramy…now wouldn’t that be something amazing to reflect on in maybe 30 years if Atlanta elects Mayor Perriman?
It takes a very special person to have a school named after them. There is no doubt that the city of Atlanta, and the community surrounding this school love and respect Jean Childs Young and supported this formal dedication, and will continue to support the school and our youth for many years to come.
Girls grow up with an image of what a woman is, what a wife is and should be, how to make a positive impact in your family’s life, debating how a strong and intelligent woman carries herself, and how she can affect change in society…there are some wonderful examples to admire in history and throughout our communities…Mrs. Jean Childs Young is definitely one of those examples- let’s keep working on our greatness ladies!
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved. Except for displayed image of Mrs. Jean Childs Young.