Andrew Young — a diplomat, Atlanta mayor, civil rights leader, pastor and congressman — was blunt in his assessment of the state of the union Monday night at the Jefferson-Jackson Gala in Columbus.
“People are worried about China; people are worried about India; people are worried about Africa; people are worried about their neighborhoods; and people are worried about their jobs,” Young told the 350 local Democrats at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. “This is the greatest period of anxiety I have seen in my 81 years.”
Young is on a speaking tour this month, and he said he welcomed the opportunity to address Democrats in Columbus.
“I asked to come here tonight,” Young said. “I want to be part of the resurrection of the Democratic party in the state of Georgia.”
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While young and other speakers, such as U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, were looking to the future, the gala took time to honor three Columbus residents who have spent decades working for and in the Democratic party.
State Rep. Calvin Smyre, community leader Charlotte Frazier and longtime community volunteer Jean Kiralfy Kent were honored with the Jack T. Brinkley Sr. award for service.
Smyre, who has served in the Georgia General Assembly for more than 40 years, called the Brinkley Award a great honor.
“I have been in politics for a long time,” Smyre said. “It is always nice when you are recognized by the people at home.”
Smyre said receiving an honor named for his longtime friend, former U.S. Rep. Jack Brinkley was especially gratifying.
“We are old ping-pong buddies,” Smyre said. “A lot of people don’t know this but I almost went to work on his staff.” Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson called Smyre “a true statesman.”
“He is a Columbus treasure,” Tomlinson said.
Frazier was instrumental in saving the historic Liberty Theatre and was instrumental in the development of the Liberty Theatre Cultural Center. She has worked for the local, state and national Democratic party.
Kent has served as chairperson or president of several service organizations such as the Concharty Girl Scout Council and the West Central Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross. She was also the first woman president of Temple Israel.