Andrew Young, the famed civil rights leader, says that while the election of Barack Obama as president does not fulfill the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, the late civil rights leader would be pleased by the significant progress the nation has made in racial and economic equality.
In an exclusive sit-down with Newsmax.TV this past week, Young also says the Obama administration lacks “Southern influence,” warns that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are “extremely serious” and require aggressive attention from the United States, and charges that Obama is making a mistake by not committing America more to aiding Africa.
Young served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Carter presidency and recently was recognized with an Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement as one of the first black Americans with a regular presence on television. He currently hosts the syndicated show “Andrew Young Presents.”
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Last year, he co-authored with Kabir Sehgal the book "Walk in My Shoes: Conversations Between a Civil Rights Legend and his Godson on the Journey Ahead
In the book, Young talks about how he sees civil rights differently than the younger generation. He was asked by Newsmax.TV if young minorities see the barriers they face as less racial than economic.
“I think I see the barriers as being largely economic,” he says.
“I try to de-racialize America’s problems. I did that even when I was in the civil rights movement. I never saw the civil rights movement as a race problem only. It was a problem that here was a significant part of the population that was not included in the politics or the economics. And that’s not good for the country.
“But the South is doing so much better now,” Young says. Young was a close and trusted aide to King. He was with the civil rights leader on the day he was slain in Memphis, Tenn. Young also served as executive director of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Young adds: “I am very very proud to be a Southerner. And I think the biggest criticism I have of the Obama administration is that there’s not enough Southern influence in it.”
Asked if King’s dream was fulfilled with the election of an African-American as president, Young responds: “Not hardly.
“I think Dr. King’s dream was to put an end to racism, war and poverty. There’s no question we’ve made enormous progress and Barack Obama’s election is a significant indicator of the racial progress we’ve made. But we’ve made little or no progress in dealing with poverty.
“I do think we’ve made progress in dealing with war — 66 million were killed in World War II, 60,000 in Korea and 50,000 in Vietnam. That is progress. Ten thousand in Iraq, and I think we’re still down around 6,000 in Afghanistan. We’re getting better at it. We’re king of learning how to keep peace in the world.
“I’m quite pleased with what’s happening in Libya in that it’s not just the United States. It’s everybody deciding that they’re not going to let a bully machine-gun his own people.”
Former President Jimmy Carter is among those who have suggested that opposition to Obama’s policies has a racial component. Young holds a different view, telling Newsmax: “I don’t like to disagree with Jimmy Carter. But there was a similar disagreement with Jimmy Carter’s policies, in the sense that he was a Southerner who was concerned with making peace around the world, and he really introduced some new ideas.
“Yet because of a lot of reasons he was criticized, for being different.”
Turning to Iran, Young says the threat posed by the Islamic Republic and its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons is “extremely serious, and it’s one that we have to address. And we should not wait to address it.
“We have to address it like we did with the Russians and the Chinese. The only time America loses is when we don’t talk to people. We never stopped talking to the Russian. We never stopped talking with the Chinese once we started. The only people we don’t talk to are the Zimbabweans, the Cubans, the Iranians and the North Koreans. And those are the only places where we’re not making any progress.
“I think we need to be far more aggressive in our interactions with those countries.”
Asked if the United States and the Obama administration are doing enough to help Africa, Young says: “I really don’t. I think Obama’s problems right now are how to make an economy work, and Africa becomes secondary in their thinking.
“That’s a mistake because I think with static economies in Europe, in Asia, Japan, the one potential growth area where the free market could expand and profit is Africa.
“Very few people know Africa and realize the potential there, including the president.”
As part of his “Andrew Young Presents” series, Young has a new documentary, “Leaving Selma,” which explores the civil rights struggle in the Alabama town.
And Young recently joined with Martin Luther King III to start a new TV and cable network, Bounce TV. According to Businessweek, Bounce "will offer programming around the clock, targeting blacks ages 25 to 54 with movies, sports, documentaries, faith-based programs and original programming."
: For Andrew Young's "Walk in My Shoes," Click Here Now
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