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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

Invite A Muslim To Thanksgiving Dinner

(13) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 1:25 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

(7) Comments | Posted November 11, 2015 | 1:26 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

(16) Comments | Posted November 2, 2015 | 1:25 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 | 3:37 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 | 4:19 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 | 2:02 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

(73) Comments | Posted August 17, 2015 | 2:31 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 | 2:10 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 | 3:09 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 | 1:09 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 | 1:49 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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Have You No Shame?

(10) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 3:13 PM

People will sometimes say or do anything to deflect from the very serious issues at hand. In many Black and brown communities across this nation, mothers, fathers, grandparents and entire families often worry when their children step outside the home -- even to simply walk to school. Their fears are...

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To Win Battleground of Ohio, Republicans Must Address Police Brutality and Reform

(94) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 2:01 PM

For the last quarter of a century, National Action Network (NAN) and I have championed and advocated on behalf of many victims of racial violence and misconduct at the hands of police. From Rodney King in L.A. in the 1990s, to the marches we organized for Eric Garner in Staten...

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A Progressive Agenda Must Be Strategically Pushed

(28) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 3:17 PM


Last week, I stood with many progressive members of the Senate and Congress, labor leaders and other activists all called together by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who outlined a 13-point agenda. Even though we didn't agree on certain particulars like...

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Videotape of the Freddie Gray Incident Brought Us to This Moment

(27) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 3:48 PM

I spent two days this week in Baltimore on the ground with young activists, veteran activists, the Baltimore chapter of National Action Network (which was involved since day one) and in meetings with the Mayor of that great city. It was because of direct involvement and organizational involvement that I...

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The Loretta Lynch Saga: The True Meaning & Dog Whistles

(91) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 3:04 PM

For over 160 days now, the confirmation vote for Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General has been in limbo in a despicable game of politics. It is my understanding, if I am to go by one Republican Senator, that Lynch may finally receive a confirmation vote sometime this week....

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Will the South Teach the North About Police Reform?

(32) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 2:15 PM

As I mounted the pulpit at Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday to preach the morning sermon and address the senseless and ruthless shooting by police of Walter Scott, I looked at Mayor Keith Summey, Police Chief Eddie Driggers and an array of media that...

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Real Religious Leaders Must Stand Up for Real Freedom

(109) Comments | Posted March 30, 2015 | 3:00 PM

Freedom of religion -- the ability to practice our faith without fear of persecution -- is a basic right that we as Americans hold dearly. But what we also cherish -- and have fought tremendously to achieve -- is the equal protection of the right of all to eat, shop,...

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What Ever Happened to Post-Racism?

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 3:34 PM


During the last few years, from Trayvon Martin to Eric Garner's painful words of "I can't breathe", to Ferguson, to voting rights and more, we as a nation continue to deal with issues of race - and more specifically racial inequality - in...

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Across the Selma Bridge... The Road Ahead

(7) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 2:07 PM

As two dozen of us marched to the midpoint of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Saturday where 50 years ago protesters pushing for voting rights including Hosea Williams and (now Congressman) John Lewis were beaten and tear gassed, I stood directly behind President Obama and next to the wheelchair of...

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