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National Action Network Highlights of 2018—
A Year in Review
In 2018, National Action Nation continued its civil rights work, scoring major legislative victories across the nation. NAN continued to take the lead in fighting for racial justice by championing police reform and condemning President Trump’s decision to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border.
Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s death, Reverend Al Sharpton started off the year asking Americans to reflect on “Where we are a half-century later?”
“Many of the things that he fought and died for,” said Rev. Sharpton “is jeopardized by this current climate.”
That’s why NAN spent 2018, focused on the legislation and policies that were—and continue to be—threatened and rolled back by the Trump administration.
We move into 2019, with the same vigor and resolve to advocate for justice for all. Won’t you join us in this ongoing struggle? Become a member of National Action Network and encourage others to join.
-National Action Network produced a Black Commuters’ Guide to Brooklyn. The comprehensive guide warned Black commuters about subway stations in Brooklyn where anti-Black policing routinely occurs.
-Reverend Al Sharpton and National Action Network kicked off the annual King Day Breakfast at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel. Dr. King’s son, Martin Luther King, III was the keynote speaker along with Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee. The following individuals were honored for exemplifying the work of Dr. King: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; Janaye Ingram, former executive director of National Action Network and director of National Partnerships with Airbnb; Baxter Leach, a 1968 Sanitation Striker, with Memphis AFSCME Local 1733; and radio talk show host and civil rights activist, Joe Madison.
-National Action Network held its annual Martin Luther King Day Public Policy Forum at the House of Justice in Harlem. Attendees included Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and others. Later that afternoon, NAN held its Martin Luther King Day Inaugural Newark Event at Metropolitan Baptist Church where Rev. Dr. David Jefferson, Chairman of NAN New Jersey is the pastor. Newark’s Mayor Ras Baraka participated along with New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy.
-National Action Network stood with Gwen Carr—the mother of Eric Garner—in calling for the New York Police Department to stop blocking a civilian board who stood ready to move forward with charges against the cop who killed her son.
-National Action Network mourned the death of Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, the famed national civil rights leader and former chief of staff to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who served as the first Chairman of the National Action Network.
-The National Action Network Central Florida chapter organized “Take a Knee for Justice,” a rally outside of the Orlando Police Headquarters on Sunday, January 28, 2019. The rally called attention to racism, police brutality, gentrification, voter suppression and discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
-In her first interview since leaving ESPN’s SportsCenter, Jemele Hill appeared on PoliticsNation for an exclusive interview with Reverend Al Sharpton about her thoughts on sports and racism.
-Reverend Al Sharpton was joined at the House of Justice by Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X. The two came to the public defense of Malcolm Xavier Combs, a student at Christ the King High School and member of the National Honor Society who was the victim of discrimination and embarrassment at the hands of high school officials who denied his request to get the name ‘Malcolm X’ on the back of his senior sweater.
-National Action Network held a rally in the Bronx to show support for Mercedes Liriano Clarke, a teacher who was told she could not teach Black history.
-Reverend Al Sharpton appeared in San Diego to call attention to the growing number of shootings by local law enforcement officers. “For a city of this size to have so many recurring incidents means this city has a problem it has not dealt with,” said Rev. Sharpton.
–“Al Sharpton, Reconsidered,” a New York Times profile of Reverend Sharpton was published in the paper’s metro section on March 9, 2018.
-Reverend Al Sharpton spoke to the mother of Stephon Clark, the unarmed young man who was killed by Sacramento police officers while holding his cell phone. Rev. Sharpton pledged support to Sequette Clark and her son’s family who announced that Reverend Sharpton would preach Stephon’s funeral.
-National Action Network joined a diverse array of state and national advocacy organizations who gathered in Albany, New York to demand a responsive state budget that meets the needs of all New Yorkers.
-Reverend Al Sharpton joined labor leaders and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s son—Martin Luther King III—in commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. Reverend Sharpton participated in a march and spoke at the ceremony.
-Reverend Al Sharpton highlighted the fatal police shooting of Saheed Vassell and noted the discrepancies in how police handle interactions with mentally ill people. Aalayah Eastmond, a student at Stoneman Douglas High School joined Reverend Sharpton at the Saturday Morning rally to announce a march during Gun Violence Awareness Month in June.
– New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an Executive Order to restore the right to vote to over 35,000 New Yorkers. Gov. Cuomo made the announcement at the NAN annual convention. The convention was the largest civil rights gathering in the country and the biggest in the organization’s history, attracting potential 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris.
-National Action Network and Reverend Al Sharpton called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to indict the police officer who fatally chocked Eric Garner in 2014.
–National Action Network and Reverend Al Sharpton rallied in Florida for voting rights restoration to ex-felons.
-Reverend Al Sharpton, and Attorney Benjamin Crump hosted a town hall meeting in Mobile, Alabama to bring attention to the case of Chikesia Clemons, a victim of a racially motivated police attack in an Alabama Waffle House arrest.
–A month after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Executive Order 181 at NAN’s 2018 convention, NAN organizers intensified their efforts to restore the vote for ex-felons in New York and across the country.
-Reverend Al Sharpton met with California Black Caucus members in Sacramento about criminal justice issues, including the Stephon Clark case. During that meeting, Rev. Sharpton also expressed concern about the lack of diversity in asset and investment fund management including state pension funds.
-National Action Network joined other groups at the NFL headquarters to urge them to terminate their National Anthem policy. NAN has long advocated for prayers’ right to kneel and called on NFL owners to reverse decision that violated players’ first amendment rights by imposing fines for not standing during the National Anthem.
-After her historic win in the Georgia Democratic Primary for Governor, Stacey Abrams called into Rev. Al Sharpton’s nationally syndicated radio show ‘Keepin it Real’ to discuss her victory.
-Reverend Al Sharpton praised ABC for canceling the Roseanne Barr Show after Roseanne made racially disparaging comments against Valerie Jarret, a longtime senior advisor to former President Barack Obama. “Racism should not be tolerated by media that depends on corporate advertisers that make their money selling their goods to Americans,” said Rev. Sharpton.
-Reverend Al Sharpton spoke about race relations, civil rights and social justice at Oxford Union in the United Kingdom. This was Reverend Sharpton’s second speech at the Oxford Union. Later in the week, Reverend Sharpton delivered a speech to Black leaders in the House of Parliament.
-National Action Network leaders were arrested in Brooklyn and Harlem to raise awareness about the increasing problem of illegal K2 sales at bodegas across the city, primarily in low-income communities and communities of color.
-Reverend Al Sharpton condemned the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the way Ohio purges its voter rolls. “This kind of codified voter suppression disproportionately impacts people of color and marginalized communities that are already underrepresented at the ballot box and could mean further disenfranchisement for millions of eligible voters across the country when other states adopt similar laws,” said Rev. Sharpton.
-Reverend Al Sharpton joined a diverse group of religious leaders to make a clergy visit to children and parents held in detention in McAllen, Texas.
-Reverend Al Sharpton expressed outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban on individuals from Muslim-majority countries. Reverend Sharpton also expressed dismay over the court’s decision to roll back public sector workers rights.
-National Action Network and other civil rights groups called for a delay vote on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Later, NAN leaders staged a protest outside of President Trump’s New York City home to bring attention to Judge Kavanaugh’s anti-civil rights record.
-Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a keynote address, held a voter registration drive and signed copies of his latest book Rejected Stone at the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans.
-Reverend Al Sharpton honored lifetime National Action Network member Beverly Alston at its Saturday Morning rally. Alston, passed away following a courageous battle with cancer.
-On the fourth year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death, National Action Network participated in a series of activities to call for justice in the ongoing case.
–National Action Network got involved in the Markeis McGlockton case. Mr. McGlockton was shot and killed in a blatant misuse of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Reverend Al Sharpton held a rally at St. John Primitive Baptist Church in Clearwater, Florida where he called on all candidates for public office to join him in advocating for an end to “Stand Your Ground “ laws in Florida and around the country.
-National Action Network activists participated in anti-violence sleepover protests in New York City to bring attention to gun violence.
-On the anniversary of White nationalist rally, Reverend Al Sharpton journeyed to Charlottesville, Virginia to preach at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church.
-During the annual Congressional Black Caucus week, Reverend Sharpton participated on a panel focused on economic development, featuring Sen. Cory Booker, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and others.
-Six months after the death of Stephon Clark, Reverend Sharpton returned to Sacramento to call for an expedited inquiry and accountability in the untimely death of the 22-year-old man.
-Reverend Al Sharpton delivered remarks and read a note from former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the funeral service of Aretha Franklin in Detroit. “When word went out that Ms. Franklin passed, Trump said, “She used to work for me,” Reverend Shaprton said. “No, she used to perform for you. She worked for us.”
– Reverend Al Sharpton participated in the 60th anniversary of the stabbing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in Harlem.
-National Action Network held its Midwest Inaugural Conference titled, “Ballots, Bullets and Bank Accounts.” Reverend Sharpton was the keynote speaker and the conference included a forum of Ohio gubernatorial candidates.
-At the annual Triumph Awards, Reverend Al Sharpton and National Action Network honored actors Terrence Howard, Jeffrey Wright; Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer; Dia Simms, President of Combs Enterprises and Joe Tacopina, managing partner of the law firm, Tacopina & Seigel, Michelle Ebanks of Essence and Tanya Lombard of AT&T. The Triumph awards recognize individuals from the legal, corporate and entertainment fields for their work within the community.
-In a Washington Post profile, Reverend Al Sharpton says he’s not an ambulance chaser: “I’m the ambulance.”
-Reverend Al Sharpton criticized President Trump’s call for ‘Stop-and-Frisk.’
-National Action Network’s Newark Tech World hosted a panel discussion with the Juvenile Justice Commission that featured elected officials, criminal justice leaders and reentry experts.
-Reverend Al Sharpton appeared on the Wendy Williams Show to discuss the midterm elections.
-National Action Network’s Middle Georgia chapter held its third annual Conference, which included keynote addresses by Reverend Sharpton and U.S. Congressman Sanford D. Bishop.
-Reverend Al Sharpton participated in a Florida Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort ahead of the midterm election. He marched with Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
-On the weekend before the midterm election, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Reverend Al Sharpton at the House of Justice to encourage voters to go to the polls on Election Day.
-National Action Network convened hundreds of activists from around the country in Washington, D.C. for the first post-midterm election. Activists met with members of Congress, prospective 2020 president candidates about their legislative agenda. At the gathering, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi praised NAN and Reverend Al Sharpton’s leadership.
Reverend Al Sharpton and MSNBC television host Joy Reid broadcast from South Africa for the Global Citizens festival honoring the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. Reverend Sharpton received a thunderous applause from the tens of thousands of people who packed FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
-Reverend Al Sharpton and National Action Network joined Gwen Carr—the mother of Eric Garner—outside of New York Police Department headquarters following the disciplinary hearing for the officer accused of killing Mr. Garner.
-During his keynote at the National Consultation Conference of National Black Churches, Reverend Al Sharpton called on preachers to help register 1.4 million former prisoners in Florida to vote.
–Mayor Bill de Blasio and other politicians join Reverend Al Sharpton in serving Christmas dinner and distributing toys to those in need.