On April 4, 1968, the country lost its greatest civil rights leader in an act of vicious and incomprehensible violence. This year marks 45 years since the Revered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Decades after his selfless act of fighting for equality, we continue to push for justice in his honor.
To remind ourselves of his sacrifice, and to remind ourselves that much work remains despite all of our progress, National Action Network (NAN) conducts its annual convention around the time of Dr. King’s assassination. This year, we are back to our headquarters of New York from April 3-6 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. While we pay homage to Dr. King, we will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and map out ways to keep the fight going. Activists, clergy, prominent voices in media, youth leaders, individuals from the Obama administration and countless others will convene in New York at NAN’s convention — and so should you.
Continuing our yearly tradition, NAN keeps its doors open to all for the convention. Free and open to the pubic, we just ask that everyone pre-register in advance. All attendees will receive our very first published book highlighting NAN’s history, as well as the opportunity to attend a wealth of panels, plenary sessions and activities. Joining me at this year’s convention are Martin Luther King III, Magic Johnson, the parents of Trayvon Martin, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Charles Ogletree, TV and radio host Ed Schultz and many, many more. Rev. T.D. Jakes, Spike Lee and Wynton Marsalis are among the honorees. We will address several of today’s most pressing issues including gun violence, voting rights, corporate accountability, political engagement, women’s rights, affordable housing, health care, race and justice, the future of the Black church, economic development and others.
Last year, many Americans had a rude and troubling awakening: In the year 2012, they found their right to vote under attack nationwide. It was only after voters educated themselves, organized, mobilized, educated others and pushed back against these tactics that modern suppression methods were defeated. It’s exactly this process of engagement that we must repeat across the board when so many tough realities face us today from unequal access to quality education and jobs to high rates of gun violence and an increasing wealth disparity. The only way we are going to get there and reach that proverbial mountaintop is if we are united and committed to achieving justice for all — not all of one kind — but all.
Many incorrectly suggested that the election of President Obama would somehow eliminate discrimination and reduce the need for progressive action. Nothing could be further from the truth. While we have undoubtedly made remarkable gains and advanced as a nation, there is much work that remains.
Join us April 3-6 as we tackle some of these challenges, collectively seek solutions and empower the next generation to carry the torch. Following three days at the Sheraton, we will convene at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem on Saturday, April 6, as we conduct our "Measuring the Movement" event. Bringing together civil rights leaders to effectively and definitively advance the movement, this panel will be aired live nationally on TV One, and as a special on MSNBC.
Dr. King once stated: “We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”
It’s up to us continue his legacy of nonviolent action. Make sure you join NAN and pre-register for our convention for free.
See you there.
Rev. Al Sharpton is the president of the National Action Network and host of MSNBC's PoliticsNation.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Courtesy of National Action Network)