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Dem Candidates Seek Sharpton’s Blessing

From those seekers of racial justice at the Washington Post:

Not Relevant? Sharpton Scoffs at the Idea

Activist’s Busy Calendar and Ringing Phone Speak to His Role in Civil Rights

By Keith B. Richburg
Wednesday, December 26, 2007; A01

NEW YORK — Even by his own frenetic standards, the Rev. Al Sharpton has had a busy 12 months.

Late last year was the police shooting in Queens of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man leaving a bachelor party, and Sharpton organized the protests. There was the spring controversy over racially insensitive remarks by shock jock Don Imus, with Sharpton leading the calls for Imus’s firing.

Sharpton put together a march in Jena, La., in support of six black teenagers jailed in the beating of a white student, and he held a protest rally outside the Justice Department in Washington to demand more prosecution of hate crimes.

And now, he is being wooed by the leading Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom seek his endorsement. “I think this has been a banner year, to say the least,” said Sharpton, smiling contentedly over coffee. “This year proved the real revival of civil rights activism.”

For Sharpton, the hyperkinetic pace of his past year and the pleas for support from presidential aspirants provide the answer to the question some are posing: How does Al Sharpton remain relevant in a Barack Obama world? …

But Sharpton has thrived this year with his high-decibel microphone-to-megaphone activism, even in the face of a federal investigation of his 2004 campaign finances. In an interview punctuated by interruptions from his cellphone, he scoffed at the notion that he is being overshadowed or is any less relevant.

“It borders on insulting to say that because some blacks are doing well in politics, we don’t need organizations to protect civil rights,” he said…

Once shunned for his street antics, jogging suits and bling, he is now courted by local and state politicians who dutifully troop to the Harlem headquarters of his National Action Network every January for his celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday…

As evidence of his continued relevance on the political scene, Sharpton pointed to the presidential candidates chasing his endorsement. He planned to fly to South Carolina earlier this month to meet former president Bill Clinton until his flight was canceled. Last month, he shared a meal of chicken wings, cornbread and coconut shrimp with Obama at Sylvia’s, a Harlem soul food restaurant.

“On the one level, they say we don’t matter. On the other level, they want to know who we’re endorsing,” Sharpton said, smiling at his own position.

Sharpton said he is going to decide among Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Obama and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina. And like much of the black community, he is torn about which way to go.

“I really haven’t decided,” he said. He said he is most concerned about finding the candidate who will pursue his racial justice agenda.

He said he is also “being strategic,” and will make his endorsement before the South Carolina primary, where he hopes to have the biggest impact because of the state’s large black vote in the Democratic primary. In 2004, when he was a candidate for president, in the South Carolina primary, Sharpton said, “I got 10 percent — and spent like $2.”

His endorsement will matter, he said, because of his reach. He has a weekly television show, “Sharp Talk,” on the cable-satellite TV One network, and his daily radio program, “Keepin’ It Real,” airs in 40 U.S. markets, including South Carolina.

“On a bad day, I’m talking to large portions of the black community,” he said. “If I’m a guy seeking office,” he said, “I would not want me against me.”

This is what passes for “relevancy” and a “hyperkinetic pace”? Gadding about race-baiting and rabble rousing?

And what an appalling indictment of the Democrat candidates, that they are all seeking this racist thug’s endorsement.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, December 26th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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