Andrew Young: ‘I Feel Uncomfortable Condemning the Klan Types’ Because 'They Are the Forgotten Americans'

Melanie Arter | August 21, 2017 | 11:53am EDT
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Former US Ambassador Andrew Young (Screenshot of NBC video)

( – Early civil rights leader and former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, who served under President Jimmy Carter, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he feels “uncomfortable” condemning the Ku Klux Klan “types,” because “they are almost the poorest of the poor” and were given “black lung jobs” instead of “affordable health care.”

“I feel uncomfortable condemning the Klan types is – they are almost the poorest of the poor. They are the forgotten Americans, and they have been used and abused and neglected. Instead of giving them affordable health care, they give them black lung jobs, and they’re happy, and that just doesn’t make sense in today’s world.” Young said in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va.


“Well, it’s a week of misunderstandings. We originally sought to redeem the soul of America from the triple evils of race, war and poverty. Most of the issues that we’re dealing with now are related to poverty, but we still want to put everything in a racial context,” said Young, who served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The former congressman and Atlanta mayor said the Klan types “see progress in the black community and on television and everywhere, and they don’t share it.”

“Now it’s not our fault. We’ve had a struggle from slavery. But black – while they call themselves militants, but they’re not militants, they’re chicken – we never tried to take advantage of anybody else. Our job was not to put down white people. Our job was to lift everybody up together. To come--so that we would learn to live together as brothers and sisters rather than perish together as fools,” said Young.

Young said President Donald Trump is “caught in a trap” because “he’s still politicking and thinking nationally, as a nationalist, and so is almost everybody else, including those who are trying to think back and blame it on the Civil War, which was hundreds of years ago.”

“But the problem we have is that we’re not living in a nationalist environment, and that’s also his problem, personally, that he’s-- his business is all global. His business is in a global economy and he’s trying to the run the country from a national economy,” Young added.

“You come from the non-violence movement. That was successful. What do you say to those activists, two generations later who think violence is the right way to go?” host Chuck Todd asked.

“No it’s more like five generations later, and there were those who thought violence was that right way then, and they aren’t around and they weren’t killed by white people. They were killed by their own anger and frustration and their inability to turn down their emotions and turn on their mind,” Young said.

“And, from 4-years-old I was always taught--my father use to tap me in the face to try to get me upset and if I swung back at him he would slap me upside my head. He said see, if you start getting emotional in a fight, you’re gonna lose the fight. Don‘t get mad, get smart. And that’s been serving--that served me well,” Young said.

“And it served me walking in the midst of the Klan alone at night without a gun, without police protection, and the only reason I did it was because the only ones that were courageous enough to go there with me and who insisted that I go were women and children. The men, you know, hide behind militant solutions, but we have to keep our eyes on the prize - and the prize is not vengeance, not getting even, but the prize is redemption,” he said.

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