Many Americans realize that Al Sharpton’s motivation as a civil rights leader is much more about his own aggrandizement than the plight of his people. Since rising to national prominence by falsely accusing a number of prominent white men of rape,he has worked nonstop to find racist undertones where none exist.
His overzealous pursuit of discrimination and obvious antisemitism combined in 1995 when he incited a Harlem riot that left seven dead. Most recently,he has had access to literally dozens of viewers from his post at MSNBC,through which he could paint George Zimmerman as a calculating murderer in spite of all facts to the contrary.
Through it all,the black community —especially in Harlem —have largely stuck by the purported reverend,giving him the support needed to continue his insincere campaign. Judging from the recently announced mission of four pastors in the area,though,that narrative appears to be shifting.
The ministers,who have formed a group called Speak Out Say It Loud,are inviting at least 100 area churches to help them establish a new spiritual voice for blacks in Harlem. A rally is set for Oct. 24 at Mount Neboh Baptist Church;and its pastor,Johnnie Green,explained why the mission is necessary.
Sharpton,he said,spends his time “jet-setting around the country”while “people are going to our churches saying they don’t have money to eat.”
He explained that the high-profile figure cannot fight for his community in Harlem while he is preparing for his television program or hawking his latest book.
Another participant,Raymond Blanchette,feels that the high-profile figure has lost touch with the needs of Harlem.
“Sharpton isn’t a community organizer,”he said. “He’s a personality.”
While organizers hope to attract more than 1,500 participants,Sharpton was quick to retaliate,saying that pastors need to “attack the issues,not each other.”
He went on to speculate that any new leadership structure would not be as effective as what he is able to provide,noting he runs “a civil rights organization”and not “a church organization.”
The local alliance agrees that Sharpton can do more on a national scale by using his clout,which is why organizers are hoping he will stick to large-scale issues while allowing Speak Out Say It Loud to take the lead regarding local matters.
For instance,Green voiced concern over the fact that Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota met with Sharpton one-on-one.
“Lhota is running to Al Sharpton like he is the leader of the black community,”he said. “He’s not.”
The 59-year-old activist will always have his supporters,many of whom continue to view America as the racial hotbed it was during the 1960s. For countless others,however,his obsession with race is seen only as a way to fulfill his need for self-promotion.
–Western Journalism staff writer
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