To be a legend is to be immortal: Ambassador Andrew Young on MLK’s legacy

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NEW ORLEANS - "The world has always been a brutal place, and the only answer to that brutality is to have a dynamic spirituality."

Few knew the importance of spiritual faith better than famed civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And for King's dear friend, U.S. Ambassador and former congressman Andrew Young, King's voice still speaks to him daily - even 49 years after King's tragic death.

April 4, 2017, marks the start of a yearlong commemoration of Dr. King's life and legacy, presented by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where King was shot and killed on a balcony at 6:01 p.m.

WGNO-News with a Twist is participating in this special event by featuring historically relevant local content throughout the year.

We sat down with Young while he was in town for a recent appearance at the University of New Orleans.

Young is the former mayor of Atlanta who now serves as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but he grew up in New Orleans and got his start as a pastor.

"New Orleans gave me one of the most exciting places on the planet to grow up," he recalled. "I went to Valena C. Jones School.  Every month was black history month. We sang 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' as we sang the national anthem."

When he reflects on his time spent with King, he said he firmly believes that he "was left here to speak for him."

"I have never felt that Martin Luther King was dead," Young said.

Even today, at 85 years old, Young hears the voice of Brother Martin. And it's loud and clear.

"I hardly go a day without quoting something he taught me," he said.