Obama’s heir to address Sharpton’s 25th confab

Obama’s heir to address Sharpton’s 25th confab
Associated Press / Paul Sancya, File

Two presidential candidates in the race for nomination by the Democratic Party are confirmed to attend the 25th anniversary convention commemorating the beginning of the National Action Network (NAN).

Recently confirmed by Rev. Al Sharpton who founded the Civil Rights organization, Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and Senator Bernie Sanders will attend the annual convention slated from April 13 to April 16.

The two contrasting candidates now locked in a campaign to win the approval of the political party that named then Senator Barack Obama, the best choice to defeat any Republican in 2008are slated to headline NAN’s 25th silver anniversary event in Manhattan.

“One of them is going to be the nominee,” Sharpton said during a recent radio broadcast where he urged potential voters to register and attend the principal meeting of any national Black organization to convene this year.

According to the activist / leader, on the first day of the convention, Clinton, a former first lady and now presidential hopeful will lead a special plenary address at noon.

The Vermont representative will do the same at 10 am on the third day of the convention.

Annually attended by a myriad of local, state and nationally elected officials, this year’s gathering significantly spotlights personalities and issues that could impact the outcome of the November elections to decide a successor to America’s history-making first Black president.

Prior to his first election before beating Clinton, Obama attended NAN’s 2008 confab.

There he was met with warmth and assurance by a crowd certain of his impending and historic victory.

Three years later, President Obama returned to deliver the keynote remarks during an awards ceremony named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There at the signature event known as the Keepers of the Dream Awards, the president addressed a gathering lauding leading names in politics, entertainment, civil rights and business. The awards, given each year in April to mark the anniversary of Dr. King’s death, honor those who have continued to advocate for the principles for which the Nobel Peace Prize winner gave his life.

This year’s honorees have not been announced however, in addition to the two Democratic frontrunners that will attend the annual event, Sharpton said five cabinet members of the Obama administration are also confirmed to attend the four-day convention.

Among them, Broderick Johnson, White House cabinet secretary and assistant to the president; Julian Castro, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Thomas Perez, secretary of Labor, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the Small Business Administration.

This year with Clinton making a second bid to be elected America’s first female leader she is poised to win the same favor from NAN loyalists and members of the Democratic Party who may perceive her as the most electable-Democrat to win against a fierce conservative field of Republicans.

While no member of the Republican slate of candidates were announced to attend NAN’s proving ground ceremony, it must be noted that since 1991 when the organization formed, Democrats have dominated the plenary sessions and panel discussions which focus on topics related to civil rights, criminal justice, voter protection, education, gun-violence, immigration, jobs, healthcare, women’s rights and police brutality.

Already Sharpton has had meetings with the two leading candidates.

He first met with Sen. Sanders at a Harlem restaurant.

Together, they discussed issues confronting the Black community — Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, pervasive police brutality meted out to Blacks and other minorities throughout the nation and joblessness.

After the meeting he said he would also meet with Clinton but would not endorse either of the candidates until he was convinced of the sincerity of each candidate to keep promises to the Black community.

He has since met with Clinton and is yet to announce a choice Democrat.

NAN’s convention will bring together influential national leaders in the areas of civil rights, government, labor, religion, business, politics, media and activism to assess progress.

There will be a special televised forum at the end of the convention entitled “Measuring the Movement” which will be hosted by Rev. Sharpton. It will feature leaders from the legacy civil rights organizations and reviews by some of the legends of the civil rights movement.

NAN was formed in response to the onslaught of racial murders throughout New York. Prior to its formation the brutal murder of Trinidad & Tobago native Michael Griffith in Howard Beach galvanized activists and concerned citizens to confront the growing tragedies. Following that tragedy which mobilized national attention, The Bensonhurst Murder case and The Central Park Jogger Trial also created tensions with polarized reactions from a divided New York.

When businessman Donald Trump placed his full-page opinion in four daily newspapers that may have led to the indictment of the five Black teenagers, it seemed as if the city became even more divided.

Despite the fact, the youths pleaded not guilty and denied being in Central Park at the time of the assault of jogger Patricia Meile, they were found guilty.

During their prison term, an inmate confined at the same facility confessed his guilt and gave detailed accounts of his involvement in the brutal attack of the jogger.

The youths who had aged to men were eventually freed but Trump never apologized for his egregious and hasty conviction of the Black Harlem residents who lived across from the park and claimed a coerced confession by police to be their only crime.

NAN forcefully embraced that case and many of the unjustified accusations and murders of minorities and since then has rallied in support of the Cato family from Guyana, (whose seven-year-old son was killed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) the Sean Bell family — who lost a son to police killing on a Thanksgiving eve that also marked his pre-wedding date, the family of Trayvon Martin (who grieved after the teenager was shot in Florida by a security guard who was acquitted for the shooting) and most recently, the family of Eric Garner, a Staten Island resident who was choked to death by police.

NAN is considered one of the leading civil rights organizations boasting chapters throughout the entire United States. Recently, Sharpton led a delegation of NAN California chapter members in protest of alleged lack of diversity by the Motion Pictures Academy. Simultaneous demonstrations were held in New York, Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta and Detroit.

The organization also urged members to boycott the international awards by refusing to watch the television broadcast.

When Nielsen, the television’s rating agency announced viewership of the 88th annual Academy Awards, Sharpton said he was “heartened.”

Ratings for the ceremony plummeted with numbers reflecting the worst decline in eight years.

“It is a significant decline and should send a clear message to the Academy and to movie studio executives that we will not tolerate discriminatory practices whether they impact what we see on screen or what takes place behind the lens.”

“Though we don’t take full credit for the decrease in viewership, certainly one would have to assume that we were effective and part of the decline.

“To those that mocked the idea of a tune out, it seems that the joke was on them.”

Sharpton has said with NAN his hope is to work within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender.

For more information go to www.nationalactionnetwork.net

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