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My holiday wish list

In the latest installment of CNBC.com's Holiday Wish List series, the civil rights leader and former mayor of Atlanta, who was an aide to Martin Luther King Jr., shares his top gift picks - and a little bit of history.

I grew up poor in New Orleans in the 1930s and 1940s, and I rarely got presents during the holidays. But once my parents gave me some roller skates, which made me very happy. Later, in the 1960s, I spent the holidays with my fellow brothers and sisters in the civil rights movement but rarely with my friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. Martin would always spend Christmas with his own family and then leave for Jamaica the day after. He would spend a month there, researching and writing his books for fourteen hours each day.

Andrew Young
Earl Gibson III | Getty Images
Andrew Young

One my most cherished presents came from Martin: he gave me $50 from his own pocket so that I could take my wife out for dinner – it felt like a million bucks, as I didn't go out to eat very often. I have lived a blessed life, and I try to share my gifts with others.

Here are my picks for what I would like to get and give for the holidays this year:

For me: iPad Air 2

Apple iPad Air 2
Source: Apple

Via Apple, $499

I use my iPad to read books. I have 80 books on it, including a dictionary and two versions of the Bible. I prefer reading books on the iPad because I can make the font extra big so that it's easier to read. Recently, I learned that there is a new version available, the iPad Air 2, which is smaller and lighter than the one that I already have. Because I travel so much, I would like to get the new iPad so it's more convenient. If possible, I would like to watch Atlanta Falcons games on it too.


For my wife: St. John Suit

St. John suit
Source: Neiman Marcus

Via Neiman Marcus, $2,195

I don't have a lot of money but I always make sure to buy a nice St. John knit suit with fancy buttons for my wife Carolyn from the local outlet store in Atlanta so I get a bargain. These suits are fashionable and relatively inexpensive compared to what else is available. When we go out to fancy parties, Carolyn wears these suits and looks wonderful, and the other women are wearing more expensive clothes – and still don't look as good as my wife! The suits are also durable and fold easily, which is good because we travel frequently. A few years ago when we traveled to South Africa with Oprah Winfrey, my wife made sure to pack a few of these suits to show Oprah who couldn't believe that they looked so good even though they were ten years old.

For My grandchildren: Elmo

Elmo
Source: Toys R Us

Via Toys "R" Us, $42

I have several grandchildren. They like toys, and I think a couple want Muppets like Elmo this year. My wife does the shopping for the grandchildren, so I'll let her decide but you can't go wrong with these furry things.

For My Godson: Revenge of Geography

The Revenge of Geography
Source: Amazon

Via Amazon, $12.99

My godson and I are voracious readers. We like to debate and argue about which books we are reading during late-night conversations on the telephone. Our spirited conversations always leave me thinking about new ideas from what's happening in the world of finance to what technologies are being adopted in Silicon Valley. Recently, he sent me a book on reforming the criminal justice system and the importance of mercy, which I enjoyed. A few months ago, I read Robert Kaplan's "Revenge of Geography," which examines geopolitics through geographies and climate. For example, Russia's lack of arable land may have made its citizens more durable yet acrimonious. I think he would like this book because he is deeply interested in world events, foreign policy, and how America will lead in the twenty-first century.


Commentary by Ambassador Andrew Young, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, congressman, mayor of Atlanta, and aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Follow him on Twitter @AmbAndrewYoung.