Civil rights

Civil rights leader Andrew Young saddened by country’s extremism

SAN ANTONIO — Civil rights leader and former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young on Tuesday expressed his deep love for the United States while lamenting the extremism rampant there.

“This country is suffering from a virus, and it’s not the medical virus that makes us wear these masks,” Young said. “There’s a political virus going on in people’s heads, that’s all (expletive).”

Speaking at an event to help Spurs kick off their celebration of Black History Month, Young encouraged Americans to look beyond the differences that divide them and embrace the positives of the nation.

“My granddaughter gets mad at me every now and then – she’s the family activist – and she says, ‘As soon as I’m old enough, I’m going to get myself a passport and walk away. here,” Young said. “And I say, baby, I’ve been to 152 countries in this world, and I love them all. But after being there for a week or 10 days, I want to go home. … You won’t like maybe nothing here, but I guarantee it’s better than any other place I’ve been in. And I still stand for that.

In a roughly 15-minute chat with Spurs guests, the former US congressman from Georgia and mayor of Atlanta also recalled his memories of standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Young was one of the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led by King. He also served as the civil rights icon’s confidant and aide.

“A shot rang out, and I don’t think he even heard it,” Young said. “And I said, fuck, you can’t go to heaven and leave us in hell. Come on, you can’t do this.

“But I realize now, fifty something, almost sixty years later, that he hasn’t gotten anywhere. That Martin Luther King is more powerful, he’s more popular, he’s better understood now than he was n any moment of his life. And that’s what makes you believe in this country…”

As Young turned 90 in March, guests who heard him speak at the AT&T Center honored him by singing “Happy Birthday.”

Young was due to receive a Spurs shirt and speak to the players after the game.

“I can’t wait to meet him,” Spurs forward Devin Vassell, a native of the Atlanta area, said Tuesday morning. He has done a lot for us. For him, being a basketball fan and going out and wanting to see us is huge. Just being able to talk to him and pick his brain is going to be huge.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke ahead of the NBA game embracing Black History Month and social justice issues.

“I think it’s obvious that athletes in general understand that with the platform they have, they speak truth to power and make themselves available in the way that they need,” he said. . “To try to fix things, to try to make things better, not to let things slide, not to have what we call ‘normal’. It can’t be ‘normal’, there has to be some discomfort , as we’ve all been talking about for a while now. Whenever something is wrong, or something can be done to change inequality, it needs to be said or you’re complicit.