Civil rights leader and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young said Wednesday he’s been concerned more about substance than symbols when it comes to Confederate memorials.
His remarks come amid renewed debate over Confederate symbols after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
At a campaign event for the Atlanta mayoral race Wednesday morning, he spoke about how Martin Luther King’s focus was on redeeming “the soul of America from the triple evils of race, poverty and war.”
"That’s been our mission. We have not been concerned with the symbols. We’ve been concerned about the substance and that has enabled us to live together as brothers and sisters, rather than perish together as fools,” Young said.
Young said the fight over the Georgia state flag in the early 2000s hurt the state and cost Democrats the governor’s race. The state flag had featured a Confederate battle flag from 1956 to 2001.
“I personally feel that we made a mistake in fighting over the Confederate flag here in Georgia – or that that was an answer to the problem of the death of nine people to take down the Confederate flag in South Carolina,” Young said.
Some Georgia lawmakers -- and several protest groups -- have called for removing Confederate memorials in Georgia.
Young said he thinks “it's too costly to refight the Civil War.”
“We have paid too great a price in trying to bring people together,” Young said.
Rose Scott contributed to this report.