Young carries on King's message

By Greg Gelpi

At only 5-foot-7-inches, Martin Luther King always insisted on playing "down low" on the basketball courts of the YMCA where he grew up, said Andrew Young, who marched alongside King during the civil rights movement.

"I'm painting a picture of a man who grew up in America and did extraordinary things," Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, said, adding insight from his daughter. "(She said) you all were just some get down brothers who were in the right place and did the right thing."

Young spoke during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at Fort McPherson Wednesday with standing room only to a room full of soldiers and area residents.

"I just loved it so much," U.S. Army Specialist Jocquelyn Rollins, 35, of Stockbridge, said. "I think I would not be able to do all that I have been able to do in my life and career if it were not for Martin Luther King."

Young said that if King were still alive he would ask the nation to pray for the upcoming elections in Iraq.

"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth just leaves everyone blind and toothless," Young said. "Our country has come to think of President (Jimmy) Carter as weak and this administration as strong."

War shouldn't be the first answer, he said. Peaceful alternatives should first be considered.

Master Sgt. Roberta Guise, 43, of Stockbridge, said she remembers growing up as a child and hearing about King. She enjoyed hearing Young talk about alternatives to war.

"Choosing him was the perfect choice for the occasion," Guise said.

King and his supporters fought the "triple evils of racism, war and poverty," Young said, but throughout the struggle for civil rights he stood firm to his peaceful tactics even when his home in Montgomery, Ala., was bombed.

Young commended the military, calling it the first government agency that ended segregation.

"Even when Jackie Robinson got to baseball, the military was desegregated," Young said.

He likened efforts in Iraq to efforts in Lebanon. When the United States worked through the United Nations to resolve hostilities in Lebanon, no Americans were killed, but Americans were killed when the United Nations was bypassed.