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SUA Honors Ambassador Andrew Young

Photo by Soka University of America.

ALISO VIEJO, Calif.—In a dignified ceremony at Soka University of America, former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young received the second Soka Global Citizen Award on May 4. Ambassador Young traveled from Atlanta to accept the award during a ceremony attended by more than 100 students, faculty and staff in the Founder’s Meeting Room at the university’s picturesque Aliso Viejo, California, campus.

“I come to you today saying, yes, the world’s in a tough state now,” Ambassador Young said, “but looking at it from the point of view of the saints I’ve known, I’m still optimistic about our future.”

Ambassador Young is perhaps best known for his leadership in the American Civil Rights movement—serving as Martin Luther King Jr.’s close advisor and executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He has also shaped policy and peacemaking on the global stage: Ambassador Young recently established the International University of Grand-Bassam in Cote d’Ivoire, a scholarship program for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and is working on various television documentaries and global health and healing projects.

During his welcoming remarks, SUA President Edward Feasel praised Ambassador Young as an exemplary global citizen who embodies the spirit of the Global Citizen Award. “We are truly honored to have Ambassador Andrew Young with us today as the second recipient of our university’s prestigious award,” President Feasel said. “We honor him today for his numerous achievements as a transformational leader in the nation and world, and his lifelong dedication to peace building, human rights and the freedom of all people.”

SUA annually presents the Soka Global Citizen Award to recognize an individual for efforts that embody the essential elements of global citizenship as articulated by SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda in his 1996 address at Teachers College, Columbia University. The annual prize carries an award of $25,000 to further the recipient’s work.

In his acceptance address, Ambassador Young reflected that in his many years of traveling to build bridges between peoples and nations, there is no place he’s been where he didn’t meet someone whom he couldn’t look up to and see as the hope of their nation. Despite the chaotic state of the world, his message to the Soka students was resolutely hopeful.

“Don’t ever give up on peace,” Ambassador Young said. “Don’t ever give up on humanity. Don’t ever give up on the eternal spirit that moves through and among us.”

Adapted from a May 12, 2022, news report on

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