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Andrew Young: A Long Way to Go for the 'Dream'

By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella   |   Saturday, 27 Aug 2011 07:40 PM

As America’s first black president, Barack Obama is doing the legacy of Martin Luther King proud, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

And with the current world situation, nobody could be doing a better job in the White House, Young said.

Young made the comments during a Newsmax interview in August when a 30-foot statue of King was supposed to have been dedicated on the National Mall in Washington.

That ceremony, postponed because of Hurricane Irene, was rescheduled for Oct. 16.

“He is doing Martin Luther King proud, but just as I was mayor and I thought I was doing Martin Luther King proud, I was picketed by the very same people that I’d marched with because the demands are so great on our nation that no leader in this time can be adequate,” said Young, who served eight years as mayor of Atlanta.

“Given the facts and the figures and the opportunities that are there around the world, the complexities of the world in which we live, I don’t think there is anyone who could be doing any better than Barack Obama.”

Young said King would be proud to memorialized on the National Mall alongside other national heroes such as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. But he said the thing that made him stand apart from the presidents is that he reached his goals without ever resorting to violence, whereas the three commanders in chief had all been involved in wars.

Apart from that, King would be most proud of the 30-foot statue’s sheer size, Young said jokingly. “He spent all of his life as 5-foot-7, and he always had a complex about being short, so his ego would make him have to admire it,” said Young, one of King’s loyalist deputies during the civil rights struggle.

Story continues below the video.

“But at the same time, he would say, ‘What is the meaning of this?’ And he would say, ‘Don’t just memorialize me and forget what I died for. I died to make America respond to the issues of racism, war and poverty.

“While we are doing something toward racism — and legal racism has been cured — war and poverty still linger with us, poverty even getting worse. So he would want us to see his statue as not a memorial to his death and life but a vision of the future and a perpetual charge to help America live out the true meaning of her creeds.”

King was assassinated at the Lorraine motel in Memphis in April 1968, at the age of 39. He had gone to the city to support striking sanitary workers, who Young called “the poorest of the poor, the untouchables of America.

Now 79, Young said, “It was those people for whom he gave his life and we can’t forget that now that his monument is sitting there on the Mall.”

The memorial was due to be unveiled on the 48th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, which he made from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“His dream really started out with the fact that America had presented the negro with a bad check and he said it came back marked ‘insufficient funds.’” Young pointed out. “Then he said, ‘I refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt’ and then he launched into ‘I still have a dream.’

“What we forget is that African Americans made the largest contribution to America, economically, before the Civil War of any sector of society. I read that the railroads were worth about $2 billion but slavery was a $3½ billion asset. So that asset has been essential to the founding of America and we have not been included in the economic growth and development of America in an equal way.

“We fought to get the right to end segregation and did that. We also fought to get the right to vote and did that, Young added.

“We know you are enslaved when you are in a democracy without the right to vote but when you are in a free enterprise system, in capitalism, without equal access to capital, we still have problems. Equal access to capital means equal access also to education and employment opportunity, so we still have a long way to go on Martin Luther King’s dream.”

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