Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr.

Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr.

Al Sharpton – National Action Network King Day Breakfast.

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Created: 18 January 2016

Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. (born October 3, 1954) is an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, television/ radio talk show / host and a former White House adviser for President Barack Obama. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nom nomination for the U.S. presidential election. He hosts his own radio talk show, Keepin’ It Real, and he makes regular guest appearances cable news television. In 2011, he was named the host of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation, a nightly talk show. In 2015, the program was shifted to Sunday mornings.

Sharpton’s supporters praise “his ability and willingness to defy the power structure that is seen as the cause of their suffering” and consider him “a man who is willing to tell it like it is.” Former Mayor of New York City Ed Koch, a one-time foe, said that Sharpton deserves the respect he enjoys among black Americans: “He is willing to go to jail for them, and he is there when they need him.” President Barack Obama said that Sharpton is “the voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden.” A 2013 Zogby Analytics poll found that one quarter of African Americans said that Sharpton speaks for them.

His critics describe him as “a political radical who is to blame, in part, for the deterioration of race relations”. Sociologist Orlando Patterson has referred to him as a racial arsonist, while liberal columnist Derrick Z. Jackson has called him the black equivalent of Richard Nixon and Pat Buchanan. Sharpton sees much of the criticism as a sign of his effectiveness. “In many ways, what they consider criticism is complimenting my job,” he said. “An activist’s job is to make public civil rights issues until there can be a climate for change.”


In 1969, Sharpton was appointed by Jesse Jackson to serve as youth director of the New York City branch of Operation Breadbasket, a group that focused on the promotion of new and better jobs for African American. In 1971 Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement to raise resources for impoverished youth.

Reclaim the Dream commemorative march

On August 28, 2010, Sharpton and other civil rights leaders led a march to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. After gathering at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., thousands of people marched five miles to the National Mall. 

Ministers March for Justice

On August 28, 2017, the fifty-fourth anniversary of the famous March on Washington at which Martin Luther King. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, Sharpton organized the Ministers March for Justice, promising to bring a thousand members of the clergy to Washington, D.C., to deliver a “unified moral rebuke” to President Donald Trump. Several thousand religious leaders showed up, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that “President Trump has united us, after all. He brought together the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Jews.”

National Action Network

In 1991, Sharpton founded the National Action Network, an organization designed to increase voter education, to provide services to those in poverty, and to support small community businesses. In 2016, Boise Kimber, an associate of Sharpton and a member of his NAN national board, along with businessman and philanthropist Dan Vaccaro,  launched Grace Church Websites, a non-profit organization that helps churches create and launch their own websites. 

Broadcast hosting

In June 2005, Sharpton signed a contract with Matrix Media to produce and host a live two-hour daily talk program, but it never aired. In November 2005, Sharpton signed with Radio One to host a daily national talk radio program, which began airing on January 30, 2006, entitled Keepin It Real with Al Sharpton. On August 29, 2011, Sharpton became the host of PoliticsNation, the MSNBC, show which originally aired weeknights during the 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time hour. In October 2015 the program was moved to Sunday mornings, one hour per week. He continues to be a regular contributor to Morning Joe.


Sharpton has written or co-written three books, Go and Tell Pharaoh, with Nick Chiles, Al on America, and The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership.

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Sharpton leading the first protest march over the death of Yusef Hawkins in Bensonhurst, 1989

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Created: 29 January 2007

Al Sharpton at National Action Network’s headquarters

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Created: 1 November 2007

Sharpton at the October 15, 2011, National Action Network American Jobs Act march

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File: 20111015 Al Sharpton at the National Action Network Jobs Bill March.jpg

Created: 15 October 2011

Sharpton and Eric Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner (right), at a protest in Staten Island on July 19, 2014.

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Created: 19 July 2014

Sharpton at a book-signing in Harlem

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File: Al sharpton book signing in Marcus Garvey park.JPG

Created: 27 March 2008

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