Rev. Al Sharpton had harsh words for the black community on Monday during the funeral for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old black man fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, earlier this month.
Sharpton said the “bad apples” must be taken care of within American police departments, but the black community must also be “straight up” about its own issues.
“Some of us act like the definition of blackness is how low you can go,” Sharpton said. “Blackness has never been about being a gangster or thug. … Blackness was, no matter how low we were pushed down, we rose up anyhow!”
“Blackness was never surrendering,” Sharpton continued. “Our pursuit of excellence. It was when it was against the law to go to some schools, we built black colleges and learned anyhow. When we couldn’t go downtown to church, we built our own. … We never surrendered! We never gave up.”
But Sharpton said that now that black people have attained positions of power, some act like “it ain’t ‘black’ no more to be successful.”
“Now you want to be a n***** and call your woman a ho — you’ve lost where you come from!” Sharpton said, as the audience exploded in applause. “We’ve got to clean up our community so we can clean up the United States of America.”
Sharpton said there is justifiable outrage that an 18-year-old was killed in Ferguson, but there should also be outrage by “our killing and shooting and running around gun-toting each other” in places like Chicago.
“Nobody going to help us if we don’t help ourselves,” he said. “Sitting around, feeling sorry for ourselves won’t solve the problems.”
Sharpton denounced the violent protesters, saying: “Michael Brown must be remembered for more than disturbances. He must be remembered for, ‘this is when they started changing what was going on.'”
“This is not about you!” Sharpton said to those who started looting after Brown’s death. “This is about justice. This is about sadness. And America is going to have to come to terms with, there’s something wrong! That we have money to give military equipment to police forces, but we don’t have money for training and money for public education and money to train our children!”
Sharpton spoke about the Brown family, saying they had to pause their mourning to “ask folks to stop looting and rioting.”
“Can you imagine?” he asked. “They’re heartbroken … and they have to stop mourning, to get you to control your anger, like you’re more angry than they are! Like you don’t understand that Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for riots. He wants to be remembered as the one that made America deal with how we’re going to police in the United States!”
You can watch video of Sharpton’s speech below (relevant comments around three minutes in):