Reverend Al Sharpton
Listen to the event
President of the National Action Network
Webcast May 2, 2002, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
Browse for other NPR stories about Al Sharpton.
Al Sharpton began his ministry at the tender age of four, when he preached his first sermon to hundreds at Washington Temple Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Five years later he was licensed, ordained and appointed Junior Pastor of the 5,000-member Washington Temple congregation.
The fiery, controversial Sharpton soon became immersed in politics and has been at the forefront of battles over police brutality and racial inequity. His National Action Network describes its mission as a "fight for progressive, people-based policies against the rising conservative trend of cutting human services and balancing budgets at the expense of the working class people."
Sharpton made his first run for office in 1992, when his U.S. Senate bid garnered him 70 percent of the statewide black vote. In his 1994 challenge to Democratic incumbent Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Sharpton tallied more than 80 percent of the statewide black vote and 26 percent of the general vote. And in his 1997 run for New York City mayor, he came within one percentage point of forcing a Democratic primary run-off. He is now considering a presidential bid in 2004.
Go and Tell Pharaoh, Sharpton's 1996 autobiography, begins not long after his birth in Brooklyn in 1954. He was raised by his mother and mentored by clergy members and by Harlem Congressman Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. In 1971, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement, registering thousands of new voters and helping put the first black on the New York State Metropolitan Transit Authority Board.
National Action Network