Former UN Ambassador, legislator and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young — one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s closest aides — tells Newsmax that it’s particularly appropriate for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration to fall on the day honoring the slain civil rights icon — Obama owes his “very existence” to the man whose life and death broke down centuries-old barriers for African-Americans.
Young also said in an exclusive Newsmax TV interview that if King were alive today, he would commend Obama for his controversial executive orders and additional efforts to tighten federal gun laws.
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King likely prevented much bloodshed during the 1960s when had commanded his followers not to pick up guns to protect him, Young said. He reasoned that if the Secret Service couldn’t protect President John F. Kennedy, then armed followers were unlikely to stop those who wanted to kill him.
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Young, in his long career after King’s death, became mayor of Atlanta, was elected to Congress three times and served at the United Nations as President Jimmy Carter’s ambassador. He was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the height of the civil rights movement. He was also one of King’s closest advisors and friends until his assassination.
He was with King in Memphis on the tragic day of April 4th, 1968. That morning, James Earl Ray shot and killed the man who spent a lifetime engaged in non-violent struggle for equality and justice for minorities and the poor.
“I’m mindful of the way that Martin Luther King dealt with the gun issue," Young said. "When people showed up at his home with guns after his house had been bombed, he said, ‘No, take your guns home. We have got to find a better way to deal with this problem.’ In fact, he used the Biblical term ‘a more excellent way.’
“When John Kennedy was assassinated, he took the position that if they couldn’t protect the president with 400 or more Secret Service, that there was no need in him worrying – that when his time came he would be ready to go.
”He said, ‘you know there’s nothing we can do about death. Everybody dies, and nobody has a choice about when they [sic] die or how they [sic] die. The only choice we have is what you die for.’
“He began to determine that he might die at any particular day, and so he made every day of his life a meaningful search and struggle to make the world better for other people and people who were less fortunate.
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“He didn’t worry about his own safety and security because he said, ‘you can’t, you don’t really have any control over that,’” Young said.
When pressed about the increase of gun sales and the obvious desire by a growing number of Americans to arm and protect themselves after mass-shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, and a movie theater in Colorado, Young responded: “Protected from what? There’s got to be a better way.”
Young, who often served as a liaison between the SCLC and opponents of the Civil Rights Movement, added that he and King disagreed about the role of government.
“I felt that Dr. King saw too much of a role for government,” Young said.
When asked what Dr. King would think about the record number of Americans receiving food stamps and other forms of government assistance, Young said: “He felt as though a society judged by his religious standards was only as good as it cared for its poor, its young and its elderly.
But Young also explained that Dr. King would not agree with the idea of “taxing the rich to do that for the poor.”
“He actually saw the process of government as recycling wealth.”
On the topic of religion and its place in modern-day American, Young said of King: “He would have frowned on, say, the prosperity preachers that preach the more you pray the more you get.
“He had a feeling that too much money, if you had more than just enough to survive it tended to corrupt the movement.”
This year, the holiday honoring King falls on the same day as the inauguration for President Obama’s second term in the White House.
When asked about Obama’s second term and the initiatives he should push through as a way to honor King, Young declared: “The problem is he doesn’t need to do anything but be the best president that he can be.
“The issues that he faced, Dr. King was not even aware of 50 years ago, 45 years ago when he was killed. I mean, we’re in the midst of a global economic revolution. We used to say all politics is local, and that’s true, but all economics is global.
“We used to say all politics is local, and that’s true, but all economics is global. So, the president has to lead this nation that is concerned about every neighborhood and community as we see with the gun control laws but he also has to lead this nation in a world that is enormously complex, where more money transfers every night electronically than even existed when Dr. King was alive.”
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