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Rev. Al Sharpton
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

The Time for Voter Rights Is Now

(15) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 1:26 PM

On Thursday, I sat with other civil rights and religious leaders from around the country as we met with President Obama and several Cabinet members. The President discussed his pending trip to Selma, Alabama where he will address the nation on the 50th anniversary of the march across Edmund Pettus...

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2016 Presidential Lineup Prospects: You Must Be Ready for Primetime

(8) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 12:56 PM

In 2004, I ran for president of the United States, entering the Democratic nominating process. Though I didn't get the votes I wanted, and never felt I was running for electoral victory, I still wanted to put certain policies and issues on the national agenda because they needed to be...

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They May Dismiss Us, But Maybe They Will Listen to FBI Director Comey, Or Justice Ginsburg

(9) Comments | Posted February 16, 2015 | 1:54 PM

About a month and a half ago, some in law enforcement and those looking to hinder progress demonized activists of all stripes from civil rights organizations like National Action Network, NAACP and National Urban League to young groups doing good work and raising legitimate issues of concern including the Black...

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The Global Fight in Criminal Justice Must Be Won

(2) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 11:32 AM

I write this piece after preaching at the New Testament Church of God in the Brixton section of London, England. Over the last two days, I had meetings, rallies and exchanges with people all over London who were interested in our fight for social justice in Staten Island, Ferguson, Cleveland...

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Beware of Using Extremists to Settle Old Political Agendas

(24) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 1:56 PM

Following the horrific attacks in Paris, France, the world was quick to condemn the tragedy and unite as one human family. This cowardly act against freedom of speech and freedom of expression is reprehensible to all sane people, but sadly, some have used it to exacerbate their already biased views....

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You Can Turn Your Back, But You Can't Turn Back Time

(117) Comments | Posted December 29, 2014 | 1:22 PM

When National Action Network (NAN) and I first responded to requests from Eric Garner's family and then to Michael Brown's family as they fought for justice and reform, we knew that there would be noise and resistance from right-wing forces and apologists for bad police. We knew that they would...

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It's Been a Long Time Coming, But Permanent Change Is Within Our Grasp

(4) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 2:28 PM


On Saturday, the entire world watched. They watched as tens of thousands marched peacefully in the nation's capital. They watched as both old and young, Black and White, and Americans from all stripes joined the families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr., Tamir...

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Marching for Congressional Action on Police Brutality

(44) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 8:23 PM

On Saturday, Dec. 13, thousands will join the families of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Akai Gurley and Michael Brown as they and National Action Network and other civil-rights organizations gather in Washington, D.C., for a march against police violence. Right now the nation is engaged in a thorough conversation about...

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Sustained Indignation

(28) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 12:20 PM

Yesterday, I preached at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the same church where I delivered the eulogy for Michael Brown, the unarmed Black teenager killed by police officer Darren Wilson. In the front row sat his mother and father, just as they sat...

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Misuse of a Grand Jury

(259) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 1:52 PM

It has been over three months since the horrific death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It has been over three months since Brown's parents and loved ones began awaiting a semblance of justice and closure on this painful chapter in their lives. And it's been over three...

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A Rose Among the Thorns

(4) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 2:23 PM

After last Tuesday's devastating results in the midterm elections with Democrats losing control of the Senate and other vital seats, including several governors' races, many were frustrated. I myself was extremely disappointed by Democrats that ran away from President Obama, and even more importantly, ran away from his policies and...

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Urgency of Now: Why We Must Vote

(8) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 3:46 PM

Over the weekend I read a piece in The New York Times titled "Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate." In short, the black vote can swing elections in key states and ultimately decide which direction the nation will go. As I've toured six...

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Replacing Eric Holder Without Displacing Voting Rights and Civil Rights

(20) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 2:57 PM

Almost as quickly as news broke that Attorney General Eric Holder was resigning, people began assessing and critiquing his record. They speculated over his replacement, and will likely continue doing so until an official announcement is made. But amid all the noise, it's important that we do not lose sight...

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Limiting Voter Participation in the Middle of Crisis

(4) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 5:20 PM

In less than two months, Americans will once again head to the polls to participate in the all-important midterm elections. But unfortunately, not everyone will be able to cast a vote. On Friday, a federal appeal's court reinstated Wisconsin's harsh voter ID law that will in effect disenfranchise thousands of...

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Does the Law Still Apply to Police, or Are Police Becoming a Law Unto Themselves?

(45) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 2:54 PM

When a robbery takes place, police arrive on the scene and either arrest the suspects, or go find and arrest them. When a woman calls police to report a domestic violence incident, they again either arrest the perpetrator or go find and arrest that person. When there's a murder, or...

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Demonstration, Legislation: Hand-in-Hand Towards Progress

(2) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 2:39 PM

As I stood and gave the eulogy for young Michael Brown last week, I kept thinking about the fact that this child should have been in college instead of laying in a coffin. I looked towards his parents and saw the pain in their eyes from such a heavy loss;...

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Become the Change You Want; Correcting Police With a Discipline Movement

(64) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 3:20 PM

Over the weekend, National Action Network (NAN) and I renewed our commitment towards seeking justice for Eric Garner, the father of six who died after NYPD officers placed him in an illegal chokehold according to videotape capturing the horrific incident. On August 23, justice caravans of cars and buses will...

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Police Behavior, James Brown, and the Struggle Continues

(12) Comments | Posted August 4, 2014 | 2:54 PM

After kicking off "Freedom Summer 2014" and opening National Action Network's Birmingham, Alabama office last week, I headed home to deal with yet another police case in New York City. Eric Garner, the Staten Island father of six, died after continuously saying 'I can't breathe' as police officers placed him...

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The 2014 Midterms Just Might Be More Important Than the 2016 Presidential Election

(11) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 2:12 PM

On a Sunday morning in September 1963, a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four innocent little girls and injuring many others. That church, the location of such tragedy and injustice, became symbolic of the overall struggle for civil rights and equality in the...

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From Coast-To-Coast, Police Abuse Must End

(70) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 1:16 PM

Every time I comfort a grieving family member who has lost a loved one to police brutality, I hope and pray that it will be the last time. But deep down, I know it won't be.

Saturday morning, I was joined at National Action Network's (NAN) weekly rally by relatives...

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