August 27th March
Press Releases

Rev. Al Sharpton announces co-chairs for NAN August 27th March on Washington

Jun 17, 2011

As NAN prepares for the historic August 27th March on Washington, Rev. Al Sharpton has announced that Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson, Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church & Chairman of National Action Network, Lee A. Saunders, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME), and Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers (AFT), have signed on as Co-Chairs of the march. Pastor Willie F. Wilson from Union Temple Baptist Church will be the National Director of the march.

As Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, one of the most progressive religious centers in the nation, Rev. Richardson is a nationally renowned faith leader who has been an advocate of community empowerment and as a leader and founder of the Coalition for the Empowerment of People of African Ancestry. Rev. Richardson is the head of CNBC, The Conference of National Black Churches, Together the groups within the CNBC represent more than 21 million African-Americans and people in the African Diaspora and the collective forms the most unified Black church voice around the issues of service, social justice and activism. In the last ten years there has been no united voice of the Black faith community and this may be the first effort of its kind since the civil rights movement to focus so decisively on policy and social justice issues and social service needs.

Lee A. Saunders is the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, which represents 1.6 million workers and he is a board member of National Action Network. Building on ideas generated by local unions, Saunders has championed AFSCME’s Next Wave initiative to encourage and develop the next generation of union leadership. He has also developed and supported programs that foster diversity and promote increased member participation within the union. He and Rev. Sharpton have toured the United States this year on a labor tour to fight for worker rights. Saunders began his career with AFSCME in 1978 as a labor economist. He has served in the capacities of Assistant Director of Research and Collective Bargaining Services, Director of Community Action and Deputy Director of Organizing and Field Services.

Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal employees; and early childhood educators. She was elected in July 2008, following 11 years of service as an AFT vice president. In the months immediately following her election, Weingarten launched major efforts to place education reform and innovation high on the nation’s agenda. In September 2008, Weingarten led the development of the AFT Innovation Fund, a groundbreaking initiative to support sustainable, innovative and collaborative reform projects developed by members and their local unions to strengthen our public schools. She has toured with National Action Network on a national education tour and has worked closely with top educators across the country to narrow the achievement gap in education.

Willie F. Wilson is Pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church–a world-renowned ministry. For over 30 years the church has pioneered in the establishment of many creative and innovative ministries. Rev. Wilson and Union Temple are the recipients of several notable awards. He has received the Vernon Johns Preaching Award as an “Outstanding Orator and Preacher” and was recognized by USA Today newspaper as one of the ten most valuable people in America in 1986. In 1997 former President William Clinton awarded Union Temple the President’s Service Award – the most prestigious award for community service given by the White House. Union Temple was nominated by the National Conference of Black Churchmen, an organization of over 68,000 churches, as one of the 100 Model Black Churches in America. Rev. Wilson served as the Executive Program Director of the historic Million Man March and as the National Executive Director of the Millions More Movement.