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Sun, 10.03.1954

Al Sharpton, Minister and Activist born

Al Sharpton

*Al Sharpton was born on this date in 1954. He is a Black minister, talk show host activist, and politician.

Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. was born in New York City to Ada (née Richards) and Alfred Charles Sharpton Sr. The family has some Cherokee roots. He preached his first sermon at four and toured with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. In 1963, Sharpton's father left his wife to have a relationship with Sharpton's half-sister. Ada worked as a maid, but her income was so low that the family had to move to the public housing projects in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. Sharpton graduated from Samuel J. Tilden High School.

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 blacks. In 1971, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement to raise resources for impoverished youth. In 1972, he was youth director for the presidential campaign of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Between 1973 and 1980, Sharpton was James Brown's tour manager.

He attended Brooklyn College, dropping out after two years in 1975. While touring with James Brown, he met his future wife, Kathy Jordan, who was a backup singer. Sharpton and Jordan married in 1980. The couple separated in 2004. Sharpton said in 1988 that he informed for the government to stem the flow of crack cocaine into black neighborhoods. Sharpton may have secretly recorded conversations with black activists in the 1980s regarding Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) and other underground black militants. He denied informing civil rights leaders and disputes portions of the allegations.

Sharpton is the founder of the National Action Network. In 2004, he ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election. Sharpton hosts his radio talk show, Keepin' It Real, and makes frequent appearances on cable news television. In 2011, he was the host of MSNBC's PoliticsNation. At the funeral of George Floyd on June 4, 2020, Sharpton delivered a eulogy where he called for the four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's murder to be brought to justice. Sharpton is an opponent of the Defund the Police movement, charging that the idea is being pushed by "latte liberals" who were out of touch with the black community and that black and poor neighborhoods "need proper policing" to protect the inhabitants from higher crime rates.

In 2021, Sharpton was criticized for leading a tobacco industry pushback against a proposed ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes using "cynically manipulative" arguments while his National Action Network accepted funding from tobacco companies.

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