Rev. Al Sharpton is the founder and president of the National Action Network (NAN), a not-for-profit civil rights organization based in Harlem, New York, with over 47 chapters nationwide.
Whether it was his noteworthy presidential run as a candidate for the Democratic Party in 2004, or his compelling speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, Rev. Sharpton has had an irrefutable impact on national politics and civil rights because of his strong commitment to equality and progressive politics. Throughout his career, Rev. Sharpton has challenged the American political establishment to include all people regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, or beliefs. In fact, few political figures have been more visible than Rev. Sharpton in the last two decades. His oratory skills have served as a platform for making changes in the American social and political establishment. He is a nationally-syndicated radio host, T.V. personality, and columnist. He has four popular radio shows broadcast throughout the country, a nationally syndicated television show, and a column that appears in national newspapers across the country.
Born on October 3, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York, Al Sharpton began his ministry at the tender age of four, preaching his first sermon at Washington Temple Church of God & Christ in Brooklyn. Just five years later, the Washington Temple church's legendary Bishop F.D. Washington licensed Al Sharpton, his protégé, to be a Pentecostal minister. Rev. Sharpton's civil rights career began almost as early as his ministry. At 13, Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Jones appointed Sharpton youth director of New York's SCLC Operation Breadbasket, an organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1971.
At the age of 16, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement, Inc., which organized young people around the country to push for increased voter registration, cultural awareness, and job training programs. It was at that time that he forged a friendship with Teddy Brown, the son of the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown. Tragically, Teddy was killed in a car accident and in the months that followed his passing, James Brown took Rev. Sharpton in as though he was his own and they developed an inexplicable bond. Rev. Sharpton was shaped by his surrogate father Mr. Brown who taught him, "You can't set your sights on nothing little; you got to go for the whole hog." Later Rev. Sharpton went on the road with James Brown and served as his tour manager. From 1994 to 1998, Rev. Sharpton served as the Director of the Ministers Division for the National Rainbow Push coalition under Rev. Jackson.
Rev. Sharpton says his religious convictions are the basis for his life and on most Sundays he preaches to congregations across the nation. Rev. Sharpton has two daughters, Dominique and Ashley, from his marriage to Kathy Jordan Sharpton. Rev. Sharpton was educated in New York public schools and attended Brooklyn College. He has an honorary degree from A.P. Bible College.
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