Rev. Sharpton’s Visit Covered in the British Headlines

Jun 06, 2018

  1. The Guardian: Rev Al Sharpton: Democrats ‘too tame to deal with Trump’
  2. The Independent: Al Sharpton attacks Oxford University for failing to admit enough black students: ‘How could you be so bright and so dumb at the same time?’
  3. The Independent: Reverend Al Sharpton says Trump is an ’embarrassment’ to America and emboldens the far right
  4. Good Morning Britain: Reverend Al Sharpton Is Optimistic About the Future of America
  5. The Voice: Rev Al Sharpton heads to Parliament
  6. Oxford Mail: Civil rights activist to speak at Oxford Union
The Guardian
Rev Al Sharpton: Democrats ‘too tame to deal with Trump’
By: Jonathan Freeland
June 6th, 2018
Civil rights leader says waiting for Trump to self-destruct is ‘not a political strategy’ and lambasts Democrats for lack of leadership and street protests.
Rev Al Sharpton outside No 10 Downing Street. ‘You got to get the message right; then you’ll get the messenger,’ said Rev Al Sharpton of the hunt for a Democrat presidential candidate. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock
‘You got to get the message right; then you’ll get the messenger,’ said Rev Al Sharpton of the hunt for a Democrat presidential candidate. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock
Donald Trump is on course to be re-elected in 2020 because those in the current crop of potential Democratic presidential candidates are “too tame to deal with an untamed opponent,” one of the party’s key power-brokers has said.
Speaking to a group of Guardian journalists following a visit to 10 Downing Street and a session with black MPs, the Rev Al Sharpton warned that the likely challengers to Trump are failing to galvanise opposition to the president. “They’ve lost the ability to dramatise. He [Trump] understands spectacle and drama and they don’t.”
Citing the current controversy over migrant parents being separated from their children, the veteran civil rights leader said Democratic would-be candidates “should be right there, getting themselves arrested” by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“What was the civil rights movement if not drama? Martin Luther King was the master of street theatre. No one would have listened if he just gave speeches.”
In a wide-ranging and candid conversation, Rev Sharpton expressed his fear that this lack of leadership could lead to disappointment in the midterm elections in November. Landslide wins for Democrats would take a mobilisation that he had not yet seen, he said. “You can’t just announce a wave, you have to organise a wave.”
As to who might take on Trump in 2020, he said that Oprah Winfrey “could beat Trump in a heartbeat”, speaking especially to poorer voters: “She’s been broke longer than she’s been rich,” he said. But he suspected the TV star and entrepreneur was not keen to run. Former vice president Joe Biden would enjoy strong black support, Sharpton said, not least because “he covered [Barack] Obama’s back for eight years”.
He noted that Bernie Sanders struggled to win African-American backing in 2016 because he “could only see class, not race and class.” He said Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, tipped as the possible standard bearer of the Democratic left, might fare better as she was more readily attuned to “the racial dimension.” But overall, he believed the current Democratic field was lacklustre and too easily distracted by Trump’s “bizarre and theatrical shenanigans”.
‘Where are Black Lives Matter now? You gave Obama hell, but where are you all now with Trump,’ asked Rev Al Sharpton, right, pictured outside No 10 Downing Street on Wednesday. Photograph: Derek Peters/Rex/Shutterstock
Democrats needed to pay less attention to the president’s tweets or the latest twists in Robert Mueller’s probe into collusion with Russia, Sharpton said, and craft instead a message based on “rights, jobs and healthcare. You got to get the message right; then you’ll get the messenger.” He added that waiting for Trump to self-destruct “is not a political strategy.”
The longtime campaigner and baptist minister also had stern words for the activists of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Where are Black Lives Matter now? You gave Obama hell, but where are you all now with Trump?”
Warning that civil rights once thought safe were again under threat, he cited Monday’s ruling by the Supreme Court in favour of a Colorado baker who had refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds. “This was one of the worst civil rights decisions I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Sharpton said, warning that once “homophobic” discrimination was allowed, sexist and racist discrimination would be next.
On Wednesday, following a meeting with black MPs, Sharpton visited 10 Downing Street to speak to Theresa May’s adviser on race issues, Nero Ughwujabo. Afterwards, Sharpton praised May’s establishment of a “race disparity audit”, measuring the effect of ethnicity on life chances in the UK, saying it was an approach he hoped to take back to the US.
But his admiration for the UK was not total. Referring to last month’s royal wedding, he said “the picture of inclusion created by the addition of a woman of a colour to the royal family” did not “reflect the reality” of a country that had also been rocked by the Windrush scandal.
As for Trump himself, Sharpton had concluded that the evidence of the president’s racism was now too overwhelming to dispute. “You don’t have to keep a white hood under the pillow,” he said, citing Trump’s baseless claim that Obama had not been born in the US and the president’s praise for neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville last year as “very fine people.”
But he urged opponents of racism and xenophobia in the US, Europe and beyond not to lose heart. “My message to the resistance movement globally is, don’t panic, but dig in.”
The Independent
Al Sharpton attacks Oxford University for failing to admit enough black students: ‘How could you be so bright and so dumb at the same time?’
By: Maya Oppenheim
June 6th, 2018
Legendary civil rights campaigner Reverend Al Sharpton has condemned Oxford University for failing to admit enough black students, arguing the institution has an “exclusionary admissions strategy”.
The acclaimed TV and radio talk show host, who spoke at the Oxford Union on Tuesday night, questioned how such a prestigious institution could have what he described as a retrograde racial diversity policy.
Rev Sharpton, who was a White House advisor to former president Barack Obama, said that 95 per cent of the crowd he addressed at the union was white.
His comments come after it was revealed that more than one in four of Oxford’s colleges failed to admit a single black British student each year between 2015 and 2017.
Last month, figures revealed several of the most prestigious colleges – including Balliol, University and Magdalen – each admitted two black British students as undergraduates during the three-year period.
Overall, white British applicants were twice as likely to be admitted to undergraduate courses as their black British peers. While 24 per cent of the former gained entry, only 12 per cent of the latter did.
“You see places as prestigious as Oxford with an exclusionary admissions strategy,” Rev Sharpton told The Independent.
“Oxford can figure out the most difficult aspects of philosophy and explore the intricacies of science but can’t figure out how to get admissions of black students. It seems contradictory – how could you be so bright and so dumb at the same time?”
“Ninety-five per cent of the crowd was white. I told them they need to work with groups like Operation Black Vote, who I have been coming to the UK with since 1991.”
Operation Black Vote is a non-partisan, non-profit national organisation that was established in 1996 to tackle the black British and ethnic minority democratic deficit. It centres its energies on voter registration, lobbying politicians and mentoring schemes.
“In Oxford, out of 29 colleges, eight colleges did not have one black undergrad admitted between 2015 and 2017,” Rev Sharpton, who Mr Obama described as “the voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden”, said.
“Last night I said that we have the great symbolic heartwarming picture of a person of colour marrying into the royal family which we all support, but you have the undercurrent of exclusion in places like Oxford.”
While about 3 per cent of the British population is black, according to the most recent census, only 1.9 per cent of the roughly 3,200 students admitted to Oxford in 2017 identified as black Britons.
Oxford University – which has been contacted for comment – admitted it needed to do more to improve student diversity after the latest figures were unearthed last month
Samina Khan, Oxford University’s director of undergraduate admissions, said the university was working hard to change.
“The reason for that is that you are looking a very different applicant pools. One is very large – that is the white pool in terms of who gets three As and above (at a A-level) – and the other one is very small,” she told the Today programme.
“We are not getting the right number of black people with the talent to apply to us and that is why we are pushing very hard on our outreach activity to make sure we make them feel welcome and they realise Oxford is for them.”
David Lammy, Labour MP and the former higher education minister, said: “The truth is that Oxford is still a bastion of white middle-class southern privilege. That is what it is.
“They have to explain why you are twice as likely to get in if you are white as if you are black and why you are more likely to get in if you are from the south than the north of England when you apply.”
Earlier this year, The Independent revealed black students pursuing a place at university were 21 times more likely to have their applications investigated for suspected false or missing information than their white counterparts.
Ucas said it was “extremely concerned” by the figures, released under freedom of information rules, and had launched an investigation.
The Independent
Reverend Al Sharpton says Trump is an ’embarrassment’ to America and emboldens the far right
By: Maya Oppenheim
June 7th, 2018
‘Trump represents a backlash of the eight years of President Obama and has given every dog whistle or racial signal to the worst elements in American society,’ civil rights activist tells The Independent
Famed for his rousing rhetoric, flamboyant persona, and oratory prowess, Reverend Al Sharpton is one of America’s most influential civil rights leaders.
The Baptist minister, who was a White House advisor to former president Barack Obama, pulls no punches and is a tenacious critic of race relations in the US.
The talk show host, who has his own radio show Keepin’ it Real, has argued the Trump presidency has emboldened the far right in the country and has described the US president as an “embarrassment” to America.
“I think that Trump represents a backlash of the eight years of President Obama and has given every dog whistle or racial signal to the worst elements in American society,” he told The Independent in a wide-ranging interview.
“He is trying to turn back the clock on voting rights, on health care, and on people’s civil rights and liberties. We are determined that while he can turn back the clock, he will not turn back time.”
Sharpton argued Trump’s divisive and incendiary rhetoric – which has seen the world leader accused of sexism and racism – has inspired the so-called “alt-right” movement in the US to become increasingly brazen in their discourse.
“Trump has emboldened the far right to come out with a lot of racism, xenophobia, and homophobia,” he said. “I think that it is an opportunity for those in the progressive and civil rights community to mobilise because they have taken the covers off and are very blatantly expressing themselves.”
“When you have the president of the United States making a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis – saying there are ‘some good people there’ – and comparing them to people protesting against confederate statues which represent slavery then they become emboldened because they have the imprimatur of the Oval Office.”
This is a reference to a white supremacist rally which took place in Charlottesville last summer and saw Neo-Nazis, KKK members and “alt-right” supporters clash with anti-fascists. A woman was left dead after a 20-year-old man, who officials say had Nazi sympathies, ploughed his car into a crowd of peaceful anti-fascist demonstrators.
Trump prompted anger in the wake of the deadly violence for drawing a moral parity between white supremacists and anti-fascists, saying counter-protesters were as violent as the far-right and the “alt-right” groups included some “very fine” people.
“It’s embarrassing to have to explain to people in the UK and the rest of the world why we have a president who tweets the most ridiculous and the most divisive stuff,” Sharpton said. “He has lowered the dignity of the office.”
The campaigner, who spoke at Oxford Union and addressed 200 local black elected officials and politicians to discuss gun violence and the War on Drugs in the House of Commons during his visit to the UK this week, argued the rise of Trump was being mirrored in Europe.
Sharpton sought to draw parallels between dispossessed Brexit voters and Trump supporters who both feel spurned by globalisation and misunderstood by the respective Washington and Westminster elite.
“It is complemented by what we see in Italy, what we see with Brexit here. This isolationism and this nationalism. It runs contrary to the globalisation of finance and the globalisation of technology – we now live in one world where you cannot stifle communication or finance and you need to learn and deal with diversity around the globe. Trump is a symbol of them trying to hold onto a world that has passed.”
He argued Trump was exacerbating rather than tackling police brutality in the US – referring to the time the billionaire property developer appeared to endorse police violence in a speech given to law enforcement officials in Long Island, New York last August.
“Trump has forthrightly said that he is on the police side. He told the police in one speech ‘don’t even be kind when you are arresting people’. This is embracing that physical police overreaction,” Sharpton said.
Mr Trump went so far as suggesting officers should not protect suspects’ heads when they are pushing them into vehicles during the speech last summer.
“And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon – you just see them thrown in, rough – I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,’” Trump said.
The president added: “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody – don’t hit their head. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, okay?’” The speech prompted loud applause and laughter from the crowd of officers.
Sharpton, who was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the US presidential election back in 2004, was more positive about race relations when discussing the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last month. Nevertheless, he argued it was important not to get fixated with symbolism and also look for the tangible consequences of Harry’s decision to marry a mixed race woman.
“I think it is great symbolism. I was very moved by it but I want to see the policies rise to the symbol,” he said. “I think it gave a lot of hope to young blacks – especially in Britain. But again it cannot end with just the wedding ceremony. We need to have a marriage in academia and in government here of inclusion and not just be satisfied with the symbol.”
Sharpton highlighted parallels between race relations in the UK and the US – saying both countries were united by their struggle to deal with “white male authority”.
“Although it manifests itself differently, [Britain and America] basically operate on the same premise that white male authority should not be questioned. That is a notion that is outdated and cannot survive with the globalisation of the world as we know it.”
He argued Trump’s approach immigration was reminiscent of the Windrush scandal across the transatlantic in the UK.
“When you have a president that identifies Mexicans as rapists and talks about building a wall and then the Windrush generation scandal pushing people out, it is the same general mood that must be resisted.”
“I want to see why we see a lack of diversity and how we heal it and how we come together,” he said. “It is good for everyone, it is not only good for blacks. You need that to deal with the upsurge of knife incidents in this country. If you have community and law enforcement working together that protects everyone. It is not just diversity for black empowerment, it is diversity for everyone’s interests.”
Figures released by London’s Metropolitan Police this month showed that in the year to March there has been a 23 per cent increase in gun crime and a 21 per cent rise in knife crime.
Crimes involving knives and sharp instruments across England and Wales are at their highest level since 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Sharpton also told The Independent Oxford University lacked racial diversity – saying the prestigious institution has an “exclusionary admissions strategy”.
Good Morning Britain
Reverend Al Sharpton Is Optimistic About the Future of America
June 6th, 2018
The Voice
Rev Al Sharpton heads to Parliament
June 6th, 2018
AFRICAN AMERICAN Civil Rights leader Rev Al Sharpton will once again team up with Operation Black Vote, and Blaksox to address a black leaders audience in Parliament to talk about the rising knife and gun crime in the UK, and punitive drugs policy which disproportionately targets black youths.
Rev Sharpton has long been a good friend and supportive of black British race equality campaigns and individual families such as the parents of Roland Adams who was racially murdered in 1991.
For 50 years, he has been at the frontline of race equality campaigns, from his early days of working with Rev Jesse Jackson back in 1969 on Operation Breadbasket, to becoming a senior advisor to President Barack Obama.
Speaking ahead of his arrival and visit to Parliament on Wednesday (June 5), , Sharpton said: “I’m looking forward to addressing Britain’s black leaders in Parliament. We have lots to discuss, including continuing race inequality, rising knife crime, and drugs policies that racially target black people.”
Here in the UK, Sharpton will draw comparisons with the US ‘war on drugs’, which too often translates to a war on black communities.
Other speakers on the day will include Diane Abbott MP and Lee Jasper.
During his visit, Rev Sharpton will also meet with the Prime Minister’s Race Equality Advisor Nero Ughwujabo to discuss The Race Disparity Audit.
Oxford Mail
Civil rights activist to speak at Oxford Union
By: Andrew French
June 5th, 2018
PROMINENT civil rights activist Al Sharpton is to give a talk at the Oxford Union tonight.
He will be at the world-famous debating chamber in St Michael’s Street at 8pm.
An influential figure in the late 1990s, he protested with other race campaigners including Rev Jesse Jackson.
Also a Baptist Minister, Mr Sharpton’s work acted as a precursor to the Black Lives Matter movement. He worked as an adviser to President Obama, who described him as “the voice of the voiceless’.
The talk at the union was originally scheduled for May 28.