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Rev. Al Sharpton
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Reverend Al Sharpton is the President of the National Action Network (NAN) and one of America’s most-renowned civil rights leaders. Whether it was his noteworthy run for President of the United States in 2004 or his use of passive resistance and non-violent civil disobedience, Rev. Sharpton has had an irrefutable impact on national politics because of his strong commitment to equality and progressive politics.

As the head of one of the most well-known civil rights organizations that has over forty chapters and affiliates across the United States, Rev. Sharpton has been applauded by both supporters and non-supporters for challenging the American political establishment to be inclusive to all people regardless of race, gender, class or beliefs. Ever since his surrogate father, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, told him, “you can’t set your sights on nothing little…you got to go for the whole hog,” Rev. Sharpton has been doing just that. He was born on October 3, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York, and began his ministry at the unusually early age of four. He preached his first sermon at that age at Washington Temple Church of God & Christ in Brooklyn where he was licensed by the legendary Bishop F. D. Washington at age nine to be a minister in that denomination. He likewise started his civil rights career very young. At age 13, he was appointed, by Reverends Jesse Jackson and William Jones, the youth director of New York’s SCLC Operation Breadbasket (founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). At age 16, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement Inc. which organized young people around the country promoting voter registration, cultural awareness and job training programs.

Rev. Sharpton was educated in public schools in New York and attended Brooklyn College. He was later presented with an honorary degree from A.P. Clay Bible College. In 1991, Sharpton founded the National Action Network a broad-based, progressive civil rights organization which he still heads. From 1994 to 1998, Rev. Sharpton served as Director of the Ministers Division for the National Rainbow Push Coalition under Rev. Jesse Jackson while still serving as the head of NAN. Upon the death of Bishop Washington in the late 80s, Rev. Sharpton became a Baptist, and in 1994, he was re-baptized as a member of the Bethany Baptist Church by Rev. William Jones. Rev. Sharpton has rejuvenated the Civil Rights movement while raising the bar for political participation for people of color.

In 1999, when a young unarmed African immigrant was gunned down in the vestibule of his home by four New York City police officers, Sharpton led 1,200 people in the civil disobedience protest arrest. The throngs that followed him to jail in this protest included former mayors, congressman and religious and community leaders across racial, ethnic and political lines. Rev. Sharpton’s platforms against racial profiling and police brutality has reached an international audience, and his work on human rights issues has taken him to Sudan, Israel, Europe and further, where he has formed alliances with international peace activists across the world. But perhaps his most significant international visit was his sojourn to Vieques, Puerto Rico in 2001. Sharpton and three Latino elected officials from New York visited Vieques to protest the U.S. Naval bombing exercises on the island, a practice that has endured for over 60 years. After visiting with hundreds of Puerto Rican citizens who have suffered physical and mental infirmities as a result of the bombing exercises, Sharpton and the other members of the “Vieques Four” led the protest at the U.S. Naval Base in Puerto Rico. They were subsequently arrested, tried several weeks later and sentenced to 40 to 90 days – Sharpton received the longest sentence – in federal prison for their protests. While Sharpton was in jail, he fasted, losing eighty pounds, and even managing to influence the local mayoral election. Because of the stand that the “Vieques Four” took that summer, President George W. Bush addressed the issue and ordered the Navy to end their exercises in 2003. Rev. Sharpton is a member of Bethany Baptist Church in his native Brooklyn neighborhood where the late William A. Jones, Jr., was the Pastor. Rev. Sharpton still preaches throughout the United States and abroad on most Sunday’s, and averages eighty formal sermons a year.

Rev. Sharpton says his religious convictions are the basis for his life. In addition to continuing to run NAN, Rev. Sharpton hosts a talk show on Syndication One that broadcasts in 40 markets, five days a week, and he hosts “Sharptalk” on TV One-- a national cable show based in a barber shop setting. Rev. Al and Kathy Jordan Sharpton have two daughters, Dominique and Ashley.

Entries by Rev. Al Sharpton

Money, Power, Respect: The Importance of Financial Education

(1) Comments | Posted April 18, 2016 | 4:34 PM

The month of April is synonymous with many things -- spring, taxes, April showers -- but what it should perhaps be most associated with is financial empowerment. In 2004, the Senate did precisely that when it officially recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month.

This is of particular importance...

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Clinton & Sanders Want Our Vote -- Let's Hear What They Have to Offer

(321) Comments | Posted April 12, 2016 | 5:11 PM

As civil rights activists and faith leaders converge in New York City for National Action Network's (NAN) annual convention beginning Wednesday, not only will we hear from top Obama Administration officials, clergy, senior media figures and corporate executives, but we will also be addressed by both Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton...

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48 Years Later, The King Dream Is at Risk

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2016 | 2:19 PM

It is hard to believe that on this very day 48 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. I was just 13 years old at the time, and became youth director of the New York chapter of his organization. I committed myself...

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The Reviews Are In: Oscars Viewership Was Down

(105) Comments | Posted February 29, 2016 | 6:04 PM

Earlier today, Nielsen released preliminary reports on viewership of the 88th annual Academy Awards -- and the results are telling. Overnight ratings for the ceremony declined to an 8-year low. For those of us that campaigned around asking citizens to tune out, this is heartening news. It is...

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Flint Response: Worse Than Katrina?

(56) Comments | Posted January 25, 2016 | 12:29 PM

Bill Schuette, Michigan Attorney General, just announced that Former Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Todd Flood and retired Detroit FBI Chief Andrew Arena will be a part of the independent investigation designed to get to the bottom of the Flint water contamination crisis.

While an investigation is obviously needed, it...

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Gun Control: Ditto Cops and Robbers

(23) Comments | Posted January 11, 2016 | 12:24 PM

As we await President Obama's final State of the Union address, where he is expected to once again touch on the importance of reducing gun violence, a few things come to mind. The push for universal police reform continues as more and more cases emerge of excessive force, police misconduct...

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2016: The Road Ahead

(1) Comments | Posted January 4, 2016 | 12:45 PM

As we begin 2016, our resolve for justice is as strong as ever and our commitment to equality renewed by both the progress we have achieved and the challenges that remain before us as a nation. Whether it's voting rights, criminal justice reform, economic disparities, racism, sexism, gender discrimination or...

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Why We Must Affirm Affirmative Action

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 11:52 AM

Wednesday morning National Action Network (NAN) and I, along with others in the civil rights community, will be rallying outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. as they listen to oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin yet again.

This case, which is set up to...

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Democrats Can't Be Trumped On the Power of the Black Church

(33) Comments | Posted November 30, 2015 | 10:25 AM

Today, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with 100 leading Black pastors, some who said they may be endorsing him and others who said they just want to hear him out. While I am unequivocally opposed to the policies and xenophobia that Trump is running his...

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Invite A Muslim To Thanksgiving Dinner

(13) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 12:25 PM

For the last 24 years of National Action Network's (NAN) existence, I have utilized Thanksgiving Day to serve and eat with the homeless and seniors at our headquarters in New York City. I chose to turn a day that I have serious problems with, given the history of what was...

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From Mizzou to LGBT Rights: Justice for All

(8) Comments | Posted November 11, 2015 | 12:26 PM

President Obama has once again made history. He is the first sitting U.S. President to be featured on the cover of an LGBT publication: OUT Magazine. The special OUT 100 issue has the President on the cover with the words: "Our President: Ally. Hero. Icon." And it's a title well...

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Silence Speaks Volumes GOP

(15) Comments | Posted November 2, 2015 | 12:25 PM

Saturday was another somber day for the country. I preached at the funeral for 31-year-old Corey Jones, who was waiting for a tow truck in the early hours of October 18 when he was shot and killed by a plainclothes officer with no badge, in an unmarked car. Jones had...

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What's Missing From the Debate Stage? Voting Rights and Criminal Justice Reform Specifics

(47) Comments | Posted October 19, 2015 | 2:37 PM

In the middle of the night last week in Durban, South Africa, I sat and watched the Democratic Presidential Debate. While I was invited to speak in that great city across the world, I made sure that I remained connected to what was happening here back home. Though I was...

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Reducing Gun Violence and Reforming Our Criminal Justice System Simultaneously

(31) Comments | Posted October 5, 2015 | 3:19 PM

On the premiere of my Politics Nation' broadcast at its new time (Sundays, 8 a.m. ET on MSNBC) I sat down with Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who touched on a host of issues -- including criminal justice reform. As she so eloquently highlighted, police are sworn to protect certain...

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Ben Carson and The Right-Wing Can Learn From the Pope

(41) Comments | Posted September 21, 2015 | 1:02 PM

This weekend, Pope Francis made a historic visit to Cuba, where he met with President Raul Castro, as well as Fidel Castro and held an outdoor mass attended by tens of thousands in Havana. Despite the fact that believers of faith were banned from membership in the Communist Party and...

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We Are Your Constituents; the Lobbyists Are Not

(74) Comments | Posted August 17, 2015 | 1:31 PM

If you've turned on your television lately, you've likely seen an ad or two blasting the historic Iran nuclear deal. The reality is, millions are being spent in a lobbying effort to destroy an agreement that has been reached after extensive negotiating and diplomacy between world powers (P5+1) and Iran....

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A Dentist Killing Cecil the Lion Is Outrageous, but So Is an Officer Killing a Black Man or Woman

(149) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 1:10 PM

When I tell people that I am a vegetarian, many are often surprised. I of course explain the health benefits, but I also explain the benefits to our environment, as well as my views on animals. As an animal activist for the last several years, I, like many, was outraged...

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One Year of Distrust Based on Unexplainable Encounters

(12) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 2:09 PM

For the last two weeks, the nation has been watching what is going on surrounding the mysterious death (coroner says suicide) of Sandra Bland at a Texas jail. Though the District Attorney and the coroner stand by their findings, the Bland family has raised serious questions and ordered an independent...

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Confederate Flag, Eric Garner Anniversary and The Harper Lee Factor

(38) Comments | Posted July 13, 2015 | 12:09 PM

As I went to three of the funerals for the beautiful nine martyrs in Charleston, South Carolina, I addressed the audience and joined our local chapter of National Action Network (NAN) and the NAACP to call for the Confederate flag to come down. This week, I am back in New...

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The Power of Forgiveness Should Not Be Confused

(61) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 12:49 PM

Many Americans, including myself, sat transfixed on Friday watching the bond hearing of Dylann Roof, the accused shooter of last week's massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. As family members of the victims stood up and said they forgave Roof, who appeared via video-conference...

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