By Péralte C. Paul. The Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network is coming to Atlanta. The civil rights leader and one-time presidential candidate plans to hold his Annual Summer Conference Aug. 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency downtown. The focus of this conference — which is free and open to the public — will be the case of Troy Anthony Davis, the Savannah man who sits on death row for the August 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail.
Davis and his supporters say he is innocent and that another man committed the crime. “There are problems in the South that cannot be ignored by the 21st century civil rights movement,” Sharpton said Monday, explaining why he picked Atlanta to be host this year. Other issues Sharpton’s organization plan to discuss in a series of panel discussions include the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the racial and economic gap in public school education, the state of America’s historically black colleges and universities and racial profiling. “I think it’s very important to that we have a national focus on these issues,” Sharpton said, particularly the Davis case and the attention given to school bullying after 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera, killed himself because of what his mother said was repeated bullying from his classmates at a DeKalb County grammar school. Besides Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, Bishop Eddie Long and Josh Smith, the Atlanta Hawks player, are slated to attend. The conference also will have panel discussions centered around issues related to teens. A “Town Hall” meeting on Saturday, for example, will focus on peer pressure, bullying and gang violence.