About Al Sharpton

Al Sharpton Biography

Rev. Al Sharpton is one of America’s most-renowned civil rights leaders. Sharpton’s strong commitment to equality and progressive politics has had an irrefutable impact on national politics, evidenced by his noteworthy Presidential run as a U.S. Democratic candidate in 2004 and his compelling speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

Throughout his career, Sharpton challenged the American political establishment to include all people in the dialogue, regardless of race, gender, class or beliefs. In February 2007, Sharpton was called “the most prominent civil rights activist in the nation” by the New York Daily News. Few political figures have been more visible during the last two decades than Sharpton, even catching the eye of Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh, who said on his own radio program that “Sharpton has the best shot of anyone at becoming the Limbaugh of the Left.” Sharpton’s daily radio show, “Keeping it Real,” is broadcast in more than 40 U.S. markets: www.sharptontalk.net

Limbaugh is not the only one touting Sharpton’s oratory and political skills. Adam Nagourney, chief national political writer at The New York Times, called Sharpton “smart, articulate, and eloquent…. As anyone that has ever heard him talk from a pulpit can testify, Sharpton is a man with a heart and firm ideological beliefs…. He has a command of politics that rivals some of the great New York party bosses, and no less significant, he has an understanding of the way the press works that rivals more than a few city editors."


As a boy, Sharpton was shaped by his surrogate father, the late Godfather of Soul, James Brown, who taught him, “you can’t set your sights on nothing little…you got to go for the whole hog.” Sharpton has been doing just that ever since.

Born on October 3, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York, Sharpton began his ministry at the tender age of four, preaching his first sermon at Washington Temple Church of God & Christ in Brooklyn. Just five years later, the Washington Temple Church’s legendary Bishop F. D. Washington licensed Sharpton, his protégé, to be a Pentecostal minister,

Sharpton’s civil rights career began almost as early as his ministry. At 13, Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Jones appointed Sharpton youth director of New York’s SCLC Operation Breadbasket, an organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1971, at the age of 16, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement, Inc., which organized young people around the country to push for increased voter registration, cultural awareness and job training programs. This same year, Sharpton acted as James Brown’s tour manager, where he met his surrogate father and his future wife, Kathy Jordan, a backup singer.

Upon the death of Bishop Washington in the late 1980s, Sharpton became a Baptist, and, in 1994, he was re-baptized by Rev. William Jones as a member of the Bethany Baptist Church. From 1994 to 1998, Sharpton also served as director of the Ministers Division for the National Rainbow Push Coalition under Rev. Jackson.

Sharpton was educated in New York City public schools and attended Brooklyn College. He was later presented with an honorary degree from A.P. Clay Bible College. Sharpton preaches throughout the United States and abroad on most Sundays and averages 80 formal sermons a year. Sharpton says his religious convictions are the basis for his life.

Rev. Al and Kathy Jordan Sharpton have two daughters, Dominique, and Ashley. Dominique is working with her father on his nationally syndicated radio program and pursuing a career in acting. Ashley is in college.

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