The Rev. Al Sharpton might have a problem on his hands. A group of African American preachers is speaking out against the famed activist, claiming that he isn't pulling his weight in addressing local issues in New York City.
Some of the pastors who recently launched a new coalition of black faith leaders argue that the MSNBC host is too concerned with his own fame and, as a result, isn't focusing his attention where it truly matters.
"While [Sharpton] is jet-setting around the country, people are going to our churches saying they don’t have money to eat," Pastor Johnnie Green of Mount Neboh Baptist Church told the NY Daily News. "People need somebody to fight for them."
The Rev. Al Sharpton(L) listens to US President Barack Obama deliver remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) Annual Phoenix Awards September 21, 2013 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Green and other local pastors are so concerned, in fact, that they've launched a new coalition of clergymen called "Speak Out Say It Loud," an effort to create a cohesive cohort of African American leaders with the power to truly make change in New York City.
Four faith leaders are at the helm of this new initiative and an upcoming event intended to focus on local conundrums. Carl Washington of New Mount Zion Baptist Church, Kris Erskine of Bethany Baptist Church and Patrick Young of First Baptist Church joined Green to put together a massive rally at 7 p.m. ET on Oct. 24, the Daily News reports.
A description of the event that is posted on Harlem One Stop Events reads:
We are the church and our voice will be heard to the benefit of our community. Join more than 50 pastors and congregations assembling at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church to Speak Out about the deplorable conditions of our community, the injustice against our people and the corrupt dealings of self-elected officials. The church is still the church and with God we have miraculous power.
While more than 1,500 supporters are set to attend the event, the intended goal is somewhat unclear. The preachers will likely speak about the issues that are impacting the community, but to what degree Sharpton will be addressed remains to be seen.
Some involved say that the intention isn't to lambaste the activist.
"We are not hating on Al," said Young.
Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, speaks at the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Washington, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Photo Credit: AP)
Perhaps the mission of "Speak Out Say It Loud" is to simply create a powerhouse that fills perceived voids left by Sharpton as he is busy hosting an MSNBC program, writing books and speaking.
A form on the Mount Neboh Baptist Church website (the location where the event will be held) asks the community to share its concerns with the group, so that the coalition can work to address local plights.
Green made it clear in speaking with the Daily News that Sharpton is, in his view, not the leader of the African American community in New York. Rather than counter the civil rights leader's organization, the National Action Network, the church collective says it's looking to take the lead on local issues.
In response to criticisms the preachers have, Sharpton said that he is still involved in local New York City issues like "stop and frisk" and that his organization isn't a church group and differs greatly from the new endeavor.
"We need to attack the issues, not each other. If you want to be the big guy, be the big guy, be that. Don’t act like I’m not doing anything local. I am," Sharpton told the Daily News. "I run a civil rights organization. They’re not going to do what I do...I don’t run a church organization."
Will he lose sociopolitical power as a result of the new local initiative? That, of course, remains to be seen.
(H/T: NY Daily News)
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