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Al Sharpton on Civil Rights

Reverend; Civil Rights Activist; Democratic Candidate for President


Reparations based on Lincoln's promise of 40 acres & a mule

Did the Democratic Party take us for granted? [Bush says] the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule. That's where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres. We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us.

It was those that earned our vote that got our vote. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats.

Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is that our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs. This vote is sacred to us. This vote can't be bargained away. This vote can't be given away. Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale.

Source: Speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Bush might reverse the gains of civil and women rights

This year we celebrated the anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education. The Supreme Court has voted five to four on critical issues of women's rights and civil rights. It is frightening to think that the gains of civil and women rights and those movements in the last century could be reversed if this administration is in the White House in these next four years. I suggest to you tonight that if Bush had selected the court in '54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school.
Source: Primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

We cannot treat people of different cultures as inferior

Whether People come from Mexico, Haiti or Canada, there must be one set of rules for everybody. We cannot welcome those to come and then try and act as though any culture will not be respected or treated inferior. We cannot look at the Latino community and preach "one language." No one gave them an English test before they sent them to Iraq to fight for America.
Source: Primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

People in Baghdad can vote but people in DC can't

The promise of America is that every citizen vote is counted and protected, and election schemes do not decide the election. It, to me, is a glaring contradiction that we would fight, and rightfully so, to get the right to vote for the people in the capital of Iraq in Baghdad, but still don't give the federal right to vote for the people in the capital of the US.
Source: Primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

Patriot Act is J. Edgar Hoover's dream

SHARPTON: I don't see how anyone that supports civil rights could support the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act that [Kerry and Edwards] supported is J. Edgar Hoover's dream. It's John Ashcroft's dream. We have police misconduct problems in California, Ohio, Georgia, New York, right now. And your legislation helps police get more power. So I think that we've got to really be honest if we're talking about change. Change how, and for who?
Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Don't let states deal with gay rights-equal federal rights

Q: You support gay marriage?

SHARPTON: I think is not an issue any more of just marriage. This is an issue of human rights. And I think it is dangerous to give states the right to deal with human rights questions. That's how we ended up with slavery and segregation going forward a long time. I, under no circumstances, believe we ought to give states rights to gay and lesbians' human rights. Whatever my personal feelings may be about gay and lesbian marriages, unless you are prepared to say gays and lesbians are not human beings, they should have the same constitutional right of any other human being.

Q: How would you do that?

SHARPTON: I would say that they have the constitutional right to do whatever anyone else can. Bush is trying to go from race baiting with quotas in 2000 to gay baiting in 2004 [with is call for a DOMA Amendment]. And all of us ought to be united that he does not scapegoat the gay and lesbian community like he did minorities four years ago.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Confederate flag must be down everywhere

Q: Is there any place for the Confederate flag, publicly or privately?

A: No. The flag represents a thought, a philosophy and a political movement built on racism, slavery and rape. You can't redo the flag and what it stands for. We cannot rest until that flag is down everywhere in this country. It is a shame that you will take young men and young women from South Carolina, send them abroad, they die under one American flag, they have to come home and live under two flags.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Flag burning is distasteful, but it's free expression

Q: Should the Constitution be amended to prohibit burning the American flag?

A: No, I don't think so. I think it is wrong and distasteful, but I think people have a right to express themselves.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Flag Amendment" Jan 25, 2004

Dangerous precedent to leave gay rights to the states

Q: President Bush supports the Defense of Marriage Act, and Sen. Edwards supports leaving the decision about gay marriage to the states.

SHARPTON: I am unilaterally opposed to any civil or human right being left to states' rights. That is a dangerous precedent. I think the federal government has the obligation to protect all citizens on a federal level. And if we start going back to states' rights, we're going back to pre-Civil War days, and I think that that, in its nature, is wrong.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

No people of color in Dean's cabinet-should import talent

Q: How you can explain not one black or brown working for your administration as governor?

DEAN: We do have African-American & Latino workers in state government.

SHARPTON: I said under your administration. Do you have a senior member of your cabinet that was black or brown?

DEAN: We had a senior member of my staff on my 5th floor.

SHARPTON: No, your cabinet.

DEAN: No, we did not. [But the cabinet has only] six members.

SHARPTON: Then you need to let me talk to you about race in this country.

DEAN: If the percentage of African-Americans in your state was any indication of what your views on race were, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King.

SHARPTON: But I don't think that that answers the question. If you want to lecture people on race, you ought to have the background and track record in order to do that. Governors import talent. Governors reach all over the country to make sure they have diversity

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Just talking about race is trivializing the issue

Q: Is the Confederate flag an acceptable symbol of anything to an American?

DEAN: The Confederate flag is a painful symbol to African-Americans in this country because of what it represented. When we campaign, we've got to talk. They say race in the South or anyplace else in America, we've got to say jobs, because everybody needs a job, doesn't matter what color they are or where they come from. We need to talk about the things that everybody needs: jobs, education & health care.

SHARPTON: Blacks in South Carolina are double unemployed to whites. We can't use a class formula to go around that issue. Secondly, just having conversations with whites without real legislation, without real executive action is to trivialize our problems. We don't need people talking to whites. We need people to do something about racism and about discrimination. Don't reduce this to a coffee shop conversation. We need action. And a president leads, like Lyndon Johnson did. They don't just have a conversation.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Get young people involved in the election process

Q: What would you do to address the low African American voter turnout?

A: I've spent a lot of time trying to address the issue of youth voter registration. We've spent time on campuses in this campaign of all races trying to register young people. I think if we bring young people out, it not only is good for them, it's good for the country. You can't just lay down and accept being marginalized. Even if you're knocked down, that's somebody else's fault, you have to get up, that's your obligation.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Banning gay marriage says gays are less than human

The Democratic candidates showed little difference on a number of issues, generally supporting the principles of a Massachusetts court decision allowing gay marriage. "Are we prepared to say gays and lesbians are less than human? If we're not prepared to say that, then how do we say that they should not have the same rights and human choices of anyone else?" asked the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.
Source: Thomas Beaumont, Des Moines (IA) Register Nov 25, 2003

Dean's Confederate flag comment stereotypes Southern Whites

SHARPTON: I don't think the governor is a racist, but [Confederate flag statement] has hurt us. When Clinton was found to be a member of a white-only country club, he apologized. You are not a bigot, but you appear to be too arrogant to say "I'm wrong" and go on.

DEAN: Rev. Jesse Jackson went to a South Carolina trailer park which was inhabited by mostly white folks making $25,000 a year. We need to reach out to those people, too, because they suffer as well. I understand the legacy of racism and bigotry in this country. We need to bring folks together in this race, just like Martin Luther King tried to do before he was killed. He was right. And I make no apologies for reaching out to poor white people.

SHARPTON: But Confederate flags are not for white people. Jackson went to South Carolina with all of us protesting the flag. The issue's not poor southern whites. Most poor southern whites don't wear a Confederate flag, and you ought not try to stereotype that.

Source: CNN "Rock The Vote" Democratic Debate Nov 5, 2003

Confederate flag: speak to whites & be sensitive to blacks

Q: You attacked Dean for recently saying he wanted "to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks." You called the remarks "insensitive" and demanded an apology. Dean's defense of his statement appears to be unyielding. Do you see a new rift in the Democratic party?

A: I proposed that he just apologize for what was clearly an insensitive statement. You must remember, it was raised by one of the young people in the audience. I was frankly surprised that the governor didn't say that he was sorry if he offended someone. When blacks see that flag we are looking at a flag that represented murder, lynching and rape. That is no casual thing. For him to say in any way that that could be tolerated is extremely offensive to a lot of people. I think in reaching out to other constituencies you don't do it at the expense of those that have been loyal to you. It is not a big tent strategy if you offend those who are already under it.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 5, 2003

Discuss racial differences, even if unpopular

Q: As president, what would be the least popular, most right thing you would do?

SHARPTON: We need to have an honest discussion about what still separates us in America. If you read the Wall Street Journal and the Amsterdam News, you wouldn't know you were in the same town. We need to really talk about that in America. And a lot of people don't want to do that because it's politically risky.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Patriot Act is unpatriotic illegitimate legislation

Q: Would you revise or repeal the Patriot Act?

A: I would definitely revisit them. They seem to be a throw-back to the COINTELPRO days of J. Edgar Hoover, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Panthers - making legal today what was illegal then. These "Patriot Acts" appear to be using the legitimate fear of 9/11 to pass illegitimate legislation. This legislation is unpatriotic in the most patriotic sense.

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003

Equal protection under the law, not racial polarization

Q: Two words, racial polarizer.

SHARPTON: You have people that are waving the Confederate Flag. They didn't wave it in Baghdad, they wave it in Columbia. And you would talk about I'm a racial polarizer because I say that we should treat people with equal protection under the law. The Republicans try to float that. We can defeat that when all of us come together and have one standard. That's why we're celebrating that 40 years [anniversary of the Civil Rights March] later in Birmingham this weekend.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Confederate flag should only be seen in a museum

The Confederate flag should be put in a private museum to preserve its heritage, not displayed on public buildings or government property. Those who can choose to stay out of South Carolina should do so. I must campaign in South Carolina in order to win the Democratic nomination.
Source: Interview with TheState.com May 2, 2003

Supports reparations and affirmative action

I think that affirmative action is going to be the first point, and reparations, certainly, is something I support and am able to deal with in any forum. But I remind you, when we were able to get Vice President Gore and Bill Bradley to debate at the Apollo Theater last time--the question of reparation was raised that night.
Source: Interview on WNCV-TV in NYC Feb 2, 2003

Will continue to work for racial equality

The question of racial inequality is not over. Blacks are still doubly unemployed to whites; Latinos are certainly more unemployed than whites. The data shows that in higher education we're not there. There's been progress, but there is a long way to go.
Source: Interview on WNCV-TV in NYC Feb 2, 2003

Supports gay rights-let people choose to sin or not

My religion does not support homosexuality, but I do. I was asked why I was supporting and marching with the homosexuals in parades, when according to the church, homosexuality is a sin. I responded that God gave people free will. God gave people the right to choose-even to choose sin. That's why there is a heaven and a hell. So I will fight for people to have the right to go to hell if that's what they choose. I'm not here to judge. I was placed here to fight for justice for all people.
Source: Al On America, by Rev. Al Sharpton, p. 88-89 Jan 1, 2002

Let gays and lesbians adopt

I believe that gays and lesbians deserve to have the same rights as homosexuals. I believe that sexual orientation should not be an impediment in the workplace, in the housing marketplace, or in the adoption market. Just as I would fight for a black or Latino not to be discriminated against, I would fight equally for the rights of gays. I believe that gays and lesbians should have the right to adopt. Sexual orientation in no way matters when it comes to parenting-all children need is love.
Source: Al On America, by Rev. Al Sharpton, p. 88 Jan 1, 2002

Other candidates on Civil Rights: Al Sharpton on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
Abortion
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Civil Rights
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Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty
Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts