“Sharpton keynotes NAN San Diego Installation Rally with Rev. Shane Harris.”

Feb 28, 2016




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By Dana Littlefield | 9:11 p.m. Feb. 27, 2016

The Rev. Al Sharpton AP file photo

San Diego — On the night before he was expected to lead a protest in Los Angeles in front of the venue hosting the Academy Awards, the Rev. Al Sharpton was in San Diego leading a discussion about civil rights.

Actually, he was talking about a revival of the civil rights movement — taking the passion and purpose many associate with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s and applying them to 21st century circumstances.

It almost seemed as though that scenario was playing itself out in front of the crowd at the Rolando headquarters of the United Domestic Workers of America, where Sharpton spoke. As soon as he took the stage, he acknowledged a young activist in San Diego, who he indicated was prepared to take up the torch.

“I believe it’s our duty to position them for leadership as we go on,” Sharpton said of the Rev. Shane Harris, who serves as president of the local chapter of the National Action Network, a civil rights advocacy group.

Sharpton, 61, founded the organization in 1991. Harris, who is in his early 20s, founded what he has described as a multicultural and multigenerational church in Mountain View a few years ago. He said Saturday night that he had “stepped away” from his church to “go full time into the movement.”

“I know what it is to be young and on fire for social justice,” Sharpton said. “And a lot of folks whose flame has flickered get upset at someone whose flame is full grown.”

The event was billed as the official kickoff of the National Action Network’s San Diego chapter. Sharpton was the keynote speaker.

But before he appeared, the crowd of more than 300 people prayed, sang along with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir of San Diego and experienced a mime/dance group performance by girls and boys from St. Stephens Cathedral Church of God in Christ.

Also in attendance were several civic leaders and community representatives, including San Diego Councilmembers Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten and president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP, Andre Branch.

Sharpton, who hosts the Sunday morning talk show PoliticsNation on MSNBC, covered a range of topics Saturday night in San Diego. He talked about the seriousness of the presidential election, drawing parallels among the conservatism of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

“(There are) people attempting to change and reverse everything that has been achieved in the country for the last half century,” Sharpton said, specifically noting race relations, labor issues and voting rights.

“We have got to organize like we’ve never organized before,” he said.

He challenged the crowd not to participate in “anything that insults and offends us,” noting the controversy over the lack of diversity in Academy Award nominations over the past two years. And he encouraged the crowd to advocate for the rights of all people, including members of the gay and lesbian community.

“You can’t fight for no one’s civil rights unless you fight for everyone’s,” he said.


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