Press Releases

Rev. Al Sharpton announces that leading officials and superstars will headline National Action Network’s 20th Anniversary & national convention

Jan 31, 2011


March 17, 2011 (New York, NY)— Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network and one of the country’s foremost leaders for civil rights, announced that National Action Network will mark it’s 20th anniversary April 6-9 in New York City. A star-studded dinner honoring Muhammad Ali, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Samuel and Latanya R. Jackson and others will kick-off 3-days of powerful workshops, seminars, and addresses that will be televised and on live radio featuring top government officials, civil rights leaders and academicians.

Each year NAN hosts the convention to bring together influential leaders in civil rights, government, business and media to focus on the issues most important in civil rights that year. Education, healthcare, youth violence and social justice will be the major issues addressed at the 2011 convention.  The four day event, which will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will consist of a series of plenary sessions, panels and special events. Past panelists and special guests have included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Sean Donovan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Speaker Newt Gingrich, and many others.

During the Convention NAN will host its 13th Annual Keepers of the Dream Awards on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011. The awards – given each year in April to mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death — honor those who have continued to advocate for the principles for which Dr. King gave his life. The Keepers of the Dream awards are given by members of the civil rights community who have committed themselves to fairness and racial harmony.

Among the honorees this year are: Muhammad Ali; Samuel and Latanya R. Jackson, The Samuel and Latanya R. Jackson Foundation; Sylvia Rhone, President, Universal Motown; Phil Griffin, President MSNBC; Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Magic Johnson Enterprises, Lee Saunders, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO; Lamell McMorris, Founder, Perennial Strategy Group, Perennial Sports and Entertainment, and Perennial Law Group; Jim Brown, NFL Hall of Famer, Amer-I-Can Foundation. There will be a keynote address by Dr. William Cosby.

Honorees are being highlighted for various initiatives that foster education, increase diversity and inspire economic development. Muhammad Ali will be honored for his legacy as a champion, leader, humanitarian, and artist. Through their Foundation, Samuel & Latanya R. Jackson have supported educational programs. Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC, has been a leader in the communications business while expanding current diversity initiatives at NBC Universal intended to increase diversity in a wide range of areas including programming and employment. Earvin “Magic” Johnson has fostered economic development in communities across the country and the Magic Johnson Foundation promotes the health, social, educational and physical well-being of urban youth. Jim Brown’s Amer-I-Can Foundation provides programs that improve life-skills and community services in the public school systems and through implementation of community programs. All of the honorees have been tireless in their pursuit of opportunities for social justice and civil rights.

Throughout each day there will be a number of panels and break-out sessions taking place that will examine important issues in Labor, Education Reform, Politics, Housing, Media, Healthcare, Youth, Black Church, Education, Criminal Justice, Labor, Gun Violence, Real Estate & Foreclosures, Sports & Entertainment, and Black Empowerment.  In addition to the panels, there are also a number of plenary sessions that feature cabinet members and other prominent individuals. In support of NAN’s mission and its work to empower persons to achieve the American Dream, NAN’s Resource Center will be free to the public and house a plethora of resources from health screenings to education and social service materials and a job fair. Overall, the NAN Resource Center will work to inform convention attendees with accurate information that can be used immediately to help better their lives.

The convention will close with a televised symposium entitled: Measuring the Movement: Black Leadership’s 12-Month Action Plan featuring Black leaders of constituencies across the country who will for the second year assess where we are and what they and their respective organizations will pledge to do over a 12-month time-frame to further critical issues impacting people of color including, but not limited to, education reform, unemployment, health care and more.  The collective will discuss the real problems and how we will not only hold the President and Administration of the United States accountable, but how we will hold ourselves accountable and tangibly measure our movement over a 12-month period to enact change.