He is one of America's foremost leaders for civil rights battles against economic injustices, political inequity and corporate racism. For more than three decades he has played a major role in virtually every significant move for civil liberty, community empowerment and economic equality. Rev. Jesse Jackson said: "When an injustice has occurred, the victims don't look for the public official with the most credentials, or the preacher with the largest church. They just call Rev. Al and they know that he'll do something about it." In addition, he was often praised by President Barack Obama as "the voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden.”
As founder and president of the National Action Network (NAN), Rev. Sharpton heads an organization that fights for progressive, people-based social policies by providing extensive voter education and registration campaigns, economic support for small community businesses and confronting corporate racism. NAN is a not-for-profit civil rights organization that was formed in 1991 and has over 100 chapters nationwide that includes a Washington, DC Bureau and regional offices across the US. Rev. Al Sharpton hosts a daily syndicated radio show and a national cable news television show on MSNBC.
His is a voice of the people, all people. He makes the call for economic empowerment, fair labor practices and business policy. He joined forces with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree to form "Second Chance," a program for non-violent felony offenders who have served their prison sentences. The project offers counseling and support for ex-convicts with non-violent records and is available to all without regard to race or gender.
In Rev. Sharpton’s biography, Go and Tell Pharaoh he describes his childhood in New York. Raised by his mother in the ghettos of Brooklyn, he began preaching his first sermon to hundreds at Washington Temple Church in his hometown. Throughout his adolescent years, the legendary Bishop F.D. Washington mentored "The Wonder Boy Preacher." By the age of nine, Sharpton was licensed and ordained by Bishop Washington and appointed Junior Pastor of the 5,000 member Washington Temple Congregation.
At age 12, Sharpton became interested in politics, mesmerized by Harlem Congressman Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and founded the National Youth Movement in 1971. Under his 17-year leadership, the NYM registered thousands of young people to vote, won hundreds of job opportunities, led the fight to put the first African American on the New York State Metropolitan Transit Authority Board. It also spearheaded the campaign resulting in the first minority School Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education.
Rev. Sharpton has run for political office in several unsuccessful bids: as a candidate for the New York State Senate (1978), the US Senate (1992 and 1994); the mayor of New York City (1997), and the US presidency (2004). A fiery and charismatic speaker known for his incisive wit and unapologetic fire, many find Rev. Sharpton an eloquent and fearless spokesman for African Americans.
Civil & Human Rights Activist and Author of 16 Books
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