To critics, he is known as "Al Charlatan" or "Rev. Soundbite," a rabble-rousing racial ambulance chaser who never met a video camera he didn't like. To others Al Sharpton (born 1955) is a voice for the disenfranchised, an intelligent, articulate activist who knows how to play the media and speak for the underclass.
The Reverend Al Sharpton has emerged as a voice that people listen to—even if they don't like what they hear. Sharpton, a Pentecostal minister without a parish, uses his theatrical style and inflammatory rhetoric to make himself as familiar a front-page figure as New York City residents Donald Trump and Leona Helmsley. The self-declared civil rights leader injected himself into many of the city's stickiest issues—the Tawana Brawley case, the Bensonhurst racial murder trial, the Bernhard Goetz shooting— often making himself part of the controversy.
Even Sharpton's harshest critics admit he touches a nerve by tapping into a vein of black discontent with white society. Revelations that would devastate other leaders, such as the news that Sharpton secretly worked as an FBI informant and tape-recorded conversations with blacks, rarely stick to Sharpton because they merely confirm the view of his supporters that the white media and the white criminal justice system are out to get him.
Creature of Media
Sharpton is "a creature of the New York media," Wilbert Tatum, publisher of New York's black newspaper, the Amsterdam News, told Newsday. "When they saw Al Sharpton, who was articulate, fat and wore jogging suits, with a medallion around his neck and processed hair, they thought that he would be the kind of caricature of black leadership they could use effectively to editorialize without editorializing at all…. While white media were using Al as a caricature, he was organizing the troops to do what respected black leadership could not do: speak to the issues without fear or favor, and use media in the process. Media thought they were using Al, and Al was using media."
On January 12, 1991 Sharpton was stabbed in the chest minutes before he was to lead a protest march through a predominantly white Brooklyn neighborhood where a black teenager was slain by a mob of white youths two years earlier. In stable condition at the hospital the next day, he did something typical—he called a press conference. As Esquire's Mike Sager wrote, "Sharpton has been defined by his sound bites, nine or 10 seconds of the most explosive rhetoric the reporter or TV producer can find. Of course, Sharpton comes from a tradition of hyperbole; he started preaching in the Pentecostal church at age four."
Born in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn where he still lives, Sharpton was drawn to the spotlight at a young age. He says that he decided early on to become a preacher, and began delivering sermons before entering kindergarten. By 13, he had become an ordained Pentecostal minister and was known as "the boy wonder," preaching gospel in local churches and accompanying entertainers such as Mahalia Jackson on national religious tours.
Sharpton graduated from Brooklyn's Tilden High School, a classmate and friend of longtime major league baseball player Willie Randolph. He briefly attended Brooklyn College before dropping out. Sharpton's father was a well-off contractor who bought a new car each year. But when Al was ten, he told the Los Angeles Times, his father deserted the family, forcing his mother to work as a cleaning woman and go on welfare. After his father left, Sharpton attached himself to a series of father figures, from U.S. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell to Jesse Jackson to singer James Brown.
Became Youth Director
In 1969 Jackson, then a young Chicago minister, named the 14-year-old Sharpton as youth director of his group, Operation Breadbasket. Around the same time, Sharpton grew close to Brown, whose son, a friend of Sharpton's, had been killed in a car accident. "He sort of adopted me," Sharpton told the Washington Post. "He lost a son, didn't have a father, so he made me his godson." Brown hired the stout teenager as a bodyguard, and introduced him to his business agents. Before he even finished high school, Sharpton was working in the concert promotion business.
Brown introduced Sharpton to two other people who would figure prominently in his life. One was backup singer Kathy Jordan, whom Sharpton met in 1972 and married in l983. (Together they have two daughters, and Jordan now works for the U.S. Army.) The other was boxing promoter Don King, whom Sharpton met in 1974 while promoting a Brown concert that coincided with the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman heavyweight title fight. Soon, Sharpton was seen at the ringside of major prize fights. Years later, Sharpton and King would team up to win a $500,000 contract to promote Michael Jackson after threatening to organize a boycott of Jackson's concert tour because of lack of minority involvement.
In the early 1970s Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement, an organization with the stated purpose of fighting drugs and raising money for ghetto youth. As the l6-year-old director of the organization, Sharpton made his first newspaper headlines in 1971 by urging black children in Harlem to participate in the African celebration of Kwanza instead of traditional Christmas events. The organization was later renamed the United African Movement, which Sharpton touted as a charitable anti-drug group with 30,000 members in 16 cities. But Victor Genecin, a New York state prosecutor, told the Washington Post that the group was "never anything more than a one-room office in Brooklyn with a telephone and an ever-changing handful of staffers who took Al Sharpton's messages and ran his errands."
In 1974 Sharpton again made headlines when he led a group of older black leaders into a meeting with New York City's deputy mayor to protest the police shooting and death of a 14-year-old black youth. The meeting was prompted by a Sharpton-led demonstration of 500 people at City Hall. Later in the decade Sharpton began experimenting with protest tactics of disorderly conduct. He was arrested for the first time in 1970 after a sit-in at New York City Hall to demand more summer jobs for teenagers. Later, he was ejected from a Board of Education meeting after sitting in front of the board president during a protest. Another time, he led a group along Wall Street, painting red X marks on office buildings he claimed were fronts for drug dealing. Sharpton told the Washington Post he borrowed such tactics from Martin Luther King, Jr. "How did King establish his leadership? By marching, by putting people in the streets. Tell me when in the history of the civil rights movement the goal wasn't to stir things up."
By and large, however, Sharpton was not known beyond his Brooklyn neighborhood. That changed in 1984, when he led the demands for a murder indictment for white subway gunman Bernhard Goetz, who shot four unarmed black teenagers he said were trying to rob him. Goetz was indicted on a murder charge but acquitted on all but minor gun charges. As Goetz's trial unfolded, Sharpton led daily protests on the courthouse steps, often finding his way onto the nightly news.
Sharpton gained national prominence with his tactics in the 1986 Howard Beach racial killing. In that case, three black men leaving a pizza parlor in the community were assaulted by a group of bat-wielding white youths. One black man died when he was chased into traffic and run over by a car. Sharpton led a "Days of Outrage" protest that shut down traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge and halted subway service in Brooklyn and Manhattan. A year later, he became closely involved with the case of 15-year-old Tawana Brawley, an upstate New York girl who claimed she was raped by five or six white men, one of whom had a police officer's badge. Sharpton, as one of Brawley's three "advisers," publicly accused several officers of the crime and persuaded Brawley not to cooperate with the state investigation. Eventually, several inquiries strongly indicated that Brawley had fabricated the entire incident.
Sharpton "seemed utterly out of control, likening the state attorney general to Adolf Hitler and demanding the arrest of Duchess County officials without a shred of proof," wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer's Claude Lewis. "Both Brawley and Sharpton proved to be among the saddest of figures, using their talents at deceit to fool the public. They thought that by merely being mysterious they could bamboozle us. They refused to speak specifics about the case and employed mysticism to enhance charges of racism to put the authorities in a defensive position. Both proved to be virtuosos at distorting reality. They are brazen people with no scruples." Sharpton remains unrepentant about his role in the Brawley case. "We don't let nothing slip through the cracks, and that case is still unresolved," he told the Los Angeles Times. "We've only won when we hit the streets and stay out in the streets and keep this town in disruption."
To the amazement of many, Sharpton survived his curious role in the Brawley affair, as well as revelations in 1988 that he was an informant for the FBI. Sharpton confirmed that for five years he secretly supplied federal law enforcement agencies with information on Don King, reputed organized crime figures, black leaders, and elected officials.
Sharpton a Survivor
In 1989 and 1990 Sharpton again beat the odds, prompting Newsday columnist Murray Kempton to compare him to "a cat who has nine lives. He just keeps surviving." First, Sharpton beat a tax evasion rap, which he called a government vendetta. Then, in 1990, he was acquitted on charges that he pocketed more than half of the $250,000 he raised through the National Youth Movement. At the beginning of the case, Sharpton wrote to the grand jury: "Since I was a young child, I was a minister. I know no other life than serving others and allowing God to take care of me. I never owned a car, house, jewelry, etc. My intent is my causes, not wealth."
Sharpton's most recent cause was Yusef Hawkins, a black 16-year-old who was killed by a bat-wielding mob in Bensonhurst in August 1989. The murder stunned New York, which was already beset by spiraling racial tensions. To many New Yorkers it symbolized a breakdown in racial civility that had no quick explanation or readily available cure. Hawkins's father, Moses Stewart, called Sharpton for help the day after the murder. "I wanted someone who was going to take my plight and scream for justice," Stewart told the Washington Post. "I didn't want anyone to come to me with a compromise. I wanted the world to know that my son was murdered because he was black. This is what Sharpton does. He brings it to the forefront."
Sharpton led protest marches through Bensonhurst and led a group standing a noisy vigil outside the courtroom where two white teens were being tried for Hawkins's murder. Not-guilty verdicts, Sharpton told Timemagazine, would be "telling us to burn down the city." Eventually, one of the teens was convicted for the murder.
Recovers from Stabbing
On January 12, 1991, while preparing to lead a march in that same Bensonhurst neighborhood to protest the light sentence given to Hawkins's killer, Sharpton was attacked by a man who stabbed him in the chest. The attack occurred in front of more than 15 supporters and 100 police officers. Sharpton was hospitalized, but officials said his wound was not serious. Michael Riccardi, 27, of Bensonhurst, was immediately arrested and charged with the stabbing.
Shortly following this incident, Sharpton visited London in the Spring of 1991 in an attempt to call attention to the killing of Rolan Adams, a black London teenager who had been allegedly stabbed to death by a gang of whites. However, Sharpton was less then credible with his facts— he did not know Adam's correct name or age and showed marked confusion over police attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Sharpton quickly returned to New York where citizens and the media were more amenable to his often outrageous charges and accusations than their English counterparts.
In early 1992 Michael Riccardi was found guilty of stabbing Sharpton and was sentenced to a 5-15 year jail term. Sharpton, always aware of the media spotlight, pleaded on his assailants behalf and asked Judge Francis X. Egitto for leniency when sentencing Riccardi. In a show of Christian forgiveness Sharpton told the court that with the proper help Riccardi could be rehabilitated.
In April 1993 Sharpton was recognized as a "… dedicated leader who remains steadfast in the fight for equality" when he was presented with the National Action Network Award. At the awards ceremony New York City Councilman Adam Clayton Powell IV and New York mayor David Dinkins had nothing but accolades for Sharpton. Now that he was being praised by politicians why not become one? In late 1992 Sharpton had entered the New York U.S. Senate primary and ran a lively if futile campaign against Geraldine Ferraro and garnered a surprisingly high 166,000 votes. In 1993 talk of a senate seat for Sharpton was revived and there was much talk in his camp mounting a similar campaign against Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It was hoped by some, and undoubtedly feared by others, that Sharpton's name on the ballot would empower many otherwise disenfranchised-enfranchised black voters. Sharpton subsequently mounted an aggressive primary challenge to Moynihan but the New York Times dubbed it as a campaign more "… pragmatically aimed at feeding his own outsider's ascendancy in black politics." He did not win the primary but he did win a place as a power-broker on the New York political scene.
With the Tawana Brawley fiasco all but forgotten and with Sharpton now being courted by various politicos his demeanor was rapidly changing. In 1995 New York said Sharpton was no longer the "Winnie Mandela of African-American politics," but was rather adopting a more conciliatory style reminiscent of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With Sharpton's entry into mainstream politics a kinder and gentler Al was calling for racial harmony and a Christian attack on the politics of meanness. Leading a 1995 March from New York City to Albany in protest of Governor George Pataki's budget cuts Sharpton told his fellow marchers:
There is a mean-spiritedness in the land. If the poor can be scapegoated today, who can be tomorrow? It's as though it's somehow criminal to be unfortunate. Over 60 percent of the children who are classified as poor in this country are the children of people who work every day. This is a battle for the soul of this country. A battle between the Christian right and the right Christians. The Christian right says cut the poor. The right Christians say feed the poor.
In a December 1995 article Newsday wrote that to his admirers Sharpton is an authentic leader, a courageous standard-bearer, and a champion of causes where others fear to tread. To his detractors however Sharpton is an inflammatory race-baiting agitator and a "… self-aggrandizing, publicity-seeking manipulator of the media." Sharpton took it all in stride, he's heard it all before, and announced a possible challenge to Rudolph Giuliani's mayoralty. On June 21, 1997, he formally announced his candidacy for New York City's Democratic mayoral nomination.
In 1996 Sharpton published his autobiography Go and tell Pharaoh: the autobiography of Reverend Al Sharpton.
Estell, Kenneth, ed., The African-American Almanac, Gale Research, 1994.
Sharpton, Al, Go and tell Pharaoh: the autobiography of Reverend Al Sharpton, Doubleday, 1996.
Albany Times-Union, April 11, 1990.
Atlanta Constitution, May 12, 1989.
Buffalo News, August 26, 1990; October 15, 1990.
Esquire, January 1990.
Gentleman's Quarterly, December 1993. Jet, April 6, 1992; April 26, 1993.
Los Angeles Times, September 27, 1989; January 13, 1991.
Miami Herald, July 14, 1989. Newark Star-Ledger, August 26, 1990.
New Republic, September 19-26, 1994.
Newsday (Long Island), January 20, 1988; January 22, 1988; June 22, 1988; January 6, 1989; April 27, 1989; June 30, 1989; May 21, 1990; August 12, 1990; January 13, 1991; January 18, 1991; December 14, 1995.
Newsweek, May 13, 1991.
New York, April 3, 1995.
New York Times, January 21, 1997.
Orlando Sentinel, May 25, 1990.
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 1990.
Time, May 28, 1990.
Washington Post, July 14, 1988; September 5, 1990. □
"Al Sharpton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/al-sharpton
"Al Sharpton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved May 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/al-sharpton
Modern Language Association
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Sharpton, Al 1954–
Al Sharpton 1954–
Minister, political activist
New York City minister and civil-rights activist Al Sharpton has been heralded and vilified both. An outspoken crusader against institutionalized racism, Sharpton’s unconciliatory opposition to police brutality, the injustices of the justice system, and urban poverty pick up the civil-rights torch at a theoretical juncture point to which less dynamic activists—concerned with “easier” issues such as affirmative-action programs and media images—do not care to venture. Mainstream African American publications tend to ignore Sharpton, while other news sources have usually painted him an instigator, provocateur, or publicity hound. A 1988New York Times profile on him used the headline “Champion or Opportunist?” to present both opinion camps on Sharpton.
Nearly ten years later, the same paper of record noted, “For the Ultimate Outsider, the Moment Is Now,” in an article focusing on Sharpton’s rise inside New York City politics in the years since. His blunt statements in the media and public rallies staged in some of New York’s toughest neighborhoods had resonated with many disenfranchised citizens. In 1992 the minister took a surprising 166,000 votes in a Senate primary race, and state and local establishment politicians began courting his favor.
Sharpton was born Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. in 1954, named after his father, a contractor and landlord. His mother, Ada Sharpton, was a seamstress who later became a domestic worker when the family disintegrated in 1963. That year, it was learned through the unplanned pregnancy of Ada Sharpton’s teenage daughter from an earlier marriage that she had been abused by the senior Sharpton. With another sister, the fourth-grade boy moved with his mother out of their large home in the Hollis section of Queens and into a much rougher area in Brooklyn known as Crown Heights. Later they moved to a housing project in the Brownsville area of the borough. His father disappeared from his life.
Despite the setback, Sharpton was already well on his way to a career in the ministry, a child prodigy who began preaching at the age of four to his sister’s doll collection. At the age of ten he was ordained a Pentecostal
At a Glance…
Born Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr., 1954, in New York, NY; son of Alfred Sr. (a contractor and landlord) and Ada Sharpton (a seamstress and domestic worker); married Kathy Jordan, c. 1985; children: Dominique, Ashley.
Career: Began preaching at the age of four; ordained minister at age 10; appointed by Jesse Jackson as New York youth director for Operation Breadbasket, 1969; New York City Human Resources Administration, intern, 1971; founder, National Youth Movement, 1971; co-owner (with singer James Brown) of Hit Bound, a concert promotion company, early 1970s; ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate seat from New York, 1992, and for New York City mayor, 1997.
Addresses; Office— National Action Network, 1941 Madison Ave., Suite 2, New York, NY 10035.
minister at the Washington Temple Church of God in Christ in Bedford-Stuyvestant, New York. He toured with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and was known on the New York church circuit as “Wonderboy.” At the age of twelve, Sharpton sought out the famed pastor and U.S. Congressman from New York, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., after reading one of his books. Sharpton cites the legendary Powell—who headed the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and served in the House of Representatives from 1945 to 1970—as a tremendous influence upon him. Powell was flamboyant and outspoken, and for it doggedly persecuted by various government agencies throughout his political career. It took a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to exonerate Powell’s name after he was expelled from Congress.
Before his death in 1972, Powell served as a mentor to the teen Sharpton; the two even appeared on national television on The David Frost Show in tandem. Sharpton had also come to know another influential African American activist, the Chicago minister Jesse Jackson. In 1969, Jackson appointed Sharpton as the New York youth director for his Operation Breadbasket, a group that organized boycotts of supermarkets and other retailers that conducted business unfairly in predominantly African American neighborhoods. With an eye toward furthering his career in politics, Sharpton became an intern in the New York City Human Resources Administration while still in high school.
In 1971 Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement (NYM), his own political organization aimed at combating police brutality and fighting drug abuse. These efforts brought him into contact with soul singer James Brown, already a legendary figure in American music. It also linked Sharpton with a friend of Brown’s, boxing promoter Don King, who helped arrange athletes to speak at NYM rallies. With Brown, Sharpton formed Hit Bound, a concert promotion company, around 1973. These connections to Brown and King—both of whom have often found themselves on the wrong side of the law—drew Sharpton into Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attempts to discredit King. The FBI was determined to prove that the boxing promoter was profiting from links to organized crime, and in the end Sharpton allegedly provided information that helped prosecute New York’s Genovese crime family.
Throughout the 1970s and early ’80s, Sharpton continued to preach, though he never pastored his own church, and the NYM worked to combat illegal drugs in the New York City. He also tried to run for a seat in the New York state legislature in 1978, but a judge ruled that he did not meet residency requirements for the Brooklyn district. As racial tensions increased in the city during the Eighties, Sharpton became an unofficial spokesperson after no one else seemed interested in taking the job. The much-publicized 1985 shooting of a group of African American teens in a New York subway car by a white man named Bernhard Goetz polarized the city. A year later, Michael Griffith, a black teen, was chased by crowd of whites after his car broke down in a still-segregated section of Brooklyn called Howard Beach. Sharpton was first African American of prominence to speak out against the murder, though the city’s mayor, Ed Koch, had already condemned it as an unconscionable lynching. Sharpton led a march through Howard Beach, and even led sit-down strikes on transit train tracks over the next year to protest the justice system’s handling of the case.
But Sharpton rose to national media attention in late 1987 when an African American teen from Wappingers Falls, about 80 miles north of New York City, was discovered inside a garbage bag with racial epithets on her, smeared with dog feces. Tawana Brawley claimed to have been kidnapped and raped by a group of white men, one of whom had showed her a police badge. Understandably, she was extremely reluctant to undergo questioning by detectives. Sharpton and two lawyers, Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, stepped in and handled the media inquiries in what became a sensational case that dominated the news for several months. The Brawley side even accused the assistant county prosecutor, Steven Pagones, of being one of the assailants. Within a year, a grand jury had investigated the case and ruled that Brawley had fabricated the story to explain her four-day disappearance from home.
Mention of the Brawley case still inspires strong opinions among both blacks and whites in America, with each side accusing the other of some level of conspiratorial conduct. In an attempt to portray Sharpton in a negative light during the most heated weeks of the investigation, a New York daily revealed that Sharpton had once served as an FBI informant, supposedly against other African American activists. A profile on Sharpton and the two lawyers for a prominent and respectable national magazine was titled “Three Buckets of Jive.” State and federal tax authorities began looking into Sharp-ton’s past income tax returns and NYM’s financial records, and he was indicted on 67 counts of fraud. In July of 1990 a court acquitted Sharpton on the fraud and larceny charges. Maddox and Mason were eventually disbarred, and Pagones filed a defamation of character suit against all three.
During this period and in the years following, Sharpton was usually portrayed in the media as a clownish figure, in part because of his portly girth and the fact that he favored jogging suits for public appearances; he also wore his hair in the same style as his friend James Brown. In the papers it was usually stressed that Sharpton’s “following”—including the official roster of the National Youth Movement—was a very small one; a typical Sharpton protest would be followed by wildly varying estimates of how many were actually in attendance. Some of these demonstrations served to publicize serious incidents of what many in the African American community viewed as institutionalized racism in the New York City justice system: the handling of the defendants in the 1989 rape of a female jogger in Central Park; the death of Yusuf Hawkins, an African American teen killed in a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn; racial tensions in Crown Heights between its African American and Hasidic Jewish community. Whether defending a victim or an alleged perpetrator, Sharpton always stepped forward to speak with the media on behalf of the families and issue a call—and a warning—for fairness. “No Justice, No Peace!” became the frequent chant at Sharpton rallies.
In January of 1991, however, the hatred some New Yorkers felt toward what Sharpton symbolized as an unofficial spokesperson for impoverished, often uneducated African Americans became dangerously apparent when he was stabbed by a Brooklyn man at a rally in a white neighborhood. Sharpton, who pulled the steak knife out his own chest before collapsing, would later cite it as a turning point in his life. From his hospital bed he spoke with his long-estranged father—with whom he was initially reluctant to speak to when the elder Sharp-ton’s call came through—but also with Jesse Jackson. The two, who had not spoken in several years, renewed ties with one another. Even New York City’s first African American mayor, David Dinkins—who had usually kept his distance from Sharpton and his more incendiary words—publicly pledged his sympathy and support. At the trial of his assailant, Sharpton made a plea for leniency to the judge, but Michael Riccardi received a five-to-fifteen-year prison sentence.
Sharpton had also became a popular public speaker, and was often invited to cities or towns where a racial incident had recently occurred; because of this, some began calling him “Reverend 911.” Even the more negative-spirited media portrayals of Sharpton characterized him as a mesmerizing, dynamic orator in the tradition of Malcolm X. In 1992, he decided to run against Geraldine Ferraro and two other candidates for a U.S. Senate seat. He came in third place in the primary, winning over 166,000 votes. His surprising success, noted New York Times Magazine writer Catherine S. Manegold, “showed New York power brokers that Sharpton had something that many more traditional politicians lack: an uncanny ability to reach the poor and chronically dispirited, voters who otherwise would turn away from politics.”
The 1993 election of former U. S. Attorney General for New York City, Rudolph Giuliani, to succeed Dinkins set in motion several new alliances across the city’s African American political community. This change in administration, and the resulting “law-and-order” attitude, served to push other African Americans in the city toward Sharpton and his views. He remained active in civil rights issues: in early 1995 he led a march against poverty in New York City, and later that year organized a prayer vigil outside the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for the judge’s stance against affirmative action.
Sharpton wrote his autobiography, Go and Tell Pharaoh, in 1996, and early the next year announced his candidacy for mayor. In the September primary, 131,000 New Yorkers cast ballots for Sharpton, giving him 32 percent of the vote. A forty percent majority was needed to run against Giuliani, and initial newspaper reports noted that a run-off election would now have to be scheduled for later in the month. But then the ballots were recounted, and it was determined that City Council member Ruth W. Messinger had indeed won the necessary majority to become the Democratic candidate, and the runoff election was canceled. Sharpton charged vote fraud, the state’s election commission found none, and a State Supreme Court judge rejected Sharpton’s request for a run-off election.
Sharpton then turned his energies to campaigning for Messinger, but Giuliani won re-election later that year. Now a committed insider within state and city Democratic politics, Sharpton was likely to make another bid for a seat in Congress. He lives in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn with his wife, Kathy Jordan Sharpton, who was once a backup singer for James Brown. Married since the mid-1980s, they have two daughters. In the 1993New York Times Magazine interview, Manegold had asked Sharpton where he saw himself at the age of 70. “Writing my memoirs,” Sharpton assumed. “I’ve been in the United States Senate for 20 years. And I am explaining to young people the days when we had to march to even get a prosecutor on a race case, something that is now automatic. I’m explaining to them that there was a day when I was very controversial and people had real emotional opinions of me. And I am wondering how I ever made it to 70.”
(With Anthony Walton)Go and Tell Pharaoh: The Autobiography of The Reuerend Al Sharpton, Doubleday, 1996.
The Gospel According to James Brown and Al Sharpton, 1991.
New York Times, February 24, 1988, pp. B1, B4; December 19, 1991, pp. B1, B8; September 14, 1997, Sec. 1, pp. 1, 42.
New York Times Magazine, January 24, 1993, p. 18.
Playboy, June, 1997, p. 124.
Village Voice, December 24, 1996, pp. 48-51.
"Sharpton, Al 1954–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sharpton-al-1954
"Sharpton, Al 1954–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved May 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sharpton-al-1954