|And a dirty dozen more|
“”I’m projected as an ambulance chaser, but I’m more the ambulance. People call me because they know I will come.
Reverend Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton, Jr. (1954–) is an African-American activist, political commentator and Baptist preacher from New York City. He first became famous in the 1980s with his protests against racial injustice, his involvement in fanning the flames of the Tawana Brawley case, and the Crown Heights riot. He is also an entrepreneur, founder of the National Youth Movement, National Action Network and was manager for soul singer James Brown.
Sharpton is a fiery orator and is often criticized by right-wingers for trying to grab the spotlight in prominent racial issues; basically, he calls them out on their racist crap and they hate him for it.
Some claim he expressed anger at "the [Jewish] diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights" vis-a-vis dealing with apartheid South Africa, and that this constituted antisemitism. As a result, he's sometimes been compared to various ideologues like Pat Buchanan. However, Sharpton denied having made some of the remarks attributed to him, and many Jewish leaders do not think Sharpton is anti-semitic.
Al Sharpton and his CORE coalition more or less managed to crush the premiere of the movie Coonskin, and a theatre that was planning to show it had smokebombs thrown in. All this in spite of no one in CORE having even seen the film. Coonskin was a mixture of Song of the South, The Godfather, and The Boondocks directed by Ralph Bakshi, and used some of the most crass imagery possible, so anyone seeing just a clip or still frame might think it was the worst of Blaxploitation. However, the movie was about being Black in 1970s Harlem and was a vicious takedown of racism, much like Blazing Saddles which came out a year prior. Anyone thinking Bahkshi was a racist had obviously never even heard a thing about the guy. But that didn't matter, Sharpton wanted to make a name for himself, so he went after the director of Fritz the Cat.
After not having learned his lesson from the Brawley case, in 2006 he was among those screaming bloody murder about racism in the Duke lacrosse case which turned out to be the fabrication of a deeply disturbed individual and gross prosecutorial misconduct that ultimately resulted in the disbarment of North Carolina District Attorney Michael Nifong. After Whoopi Goldberg demanded that he apologize for contributing to the toxicity surrounding the case, he refused and instead claimed that he "wasn't involved" in any way.
Despite his decline in relevance (at least compared to the 1980s and 1990s), conservatives love using him and Jesse Jackson as scapegoats in discussions about race relations in the United States, especially with the rise of #BlackLivesMatter in 2015. Just like "social justice warrior", Al Sharpton's name has become a handy means of ending conversations. If someone expresses the belief that African Americans aren't getting a fair shake from society, Al Sharpton will be invoked by those who disagree, with the implication that Sharpton's existence somehow proves that reverse racism is a bigger problem. However, an increasing amount of critics of BLM use Jackson and Sharpton the same way conservatives have been using Martin Luther King for decades, as examples of "real" civil rights leaders who believe in equality, fighting against "real" racism, in order to appeal to a more moderate audience.
- The Gaffes of Al Sharpton by William Saletan & Avi Zenilman (Oct. 7 2003 10:49 AM) Slate.
- Derrick Z. Jackson, "Uneasy About Sharpton." Boston Globe: February 25, 2000.
- Al Sharpton’s Jewish Problem by Richard Goldstein (Tuesday, November 13, 2001 at 4 a.m.) 'The Village Voice.
- RALPH BAKSHI’S ANIMATED ASSAULT ON RACISM IN AMERICA IS STILL AN UNCOMPROMISING GUT PUNCH
- Coonskin, Roger Ebert review
- Al Sharpton's Secret Work As FBI Informant: Untold story of how activist once aided Mafia probes by William Bastone et al. (April 7, 2014) The Smoking Gun.
- Whoopi to Sharpton: Apologize to Duke Players by Geoffrey Bennett (Oct. 10, 2007) NPR.
- Al Sharpton Is A Bigot… Against Fat People: The trim activist loves to mock the overweight August 26, 2014. The Smoking Gun.