As we get closer and closer to a decision on whether or not Michael Brown’s killer Darren Wilson will be prosecuted for his role in Brown’s death, The New York Times has decided to publish an article that pretty much drags civil rights leader Al Sharpton’s reputation and finances through the mud. They are reporting that Sharpton never paid taxes, rent and other bills and currently has $4.5 million in current and federal tax liens against him and his non-profit, the National Action Network.
Sharpton has been a pillar of hope for Brown’s family from the moment that news spread that the unarmed teen was shot in cold blood by an officer of the law. This week in a press conference, Sharpton said, “I have pledged to the mother and father of Michael Brown that I will be there with them when the decision is announced. Sharpton says once the announcement is made, demonstrators will make their voice known and announced at the same conference that he was organizing rallies in 25 cities to have vigils and non-violent demonstrations at federal buildings. Al Sharpton is an activist. He’s for the people. And just because he owes money, doesn’t make him any less of a champion for Blacks. Sharpton responded to the Times piece, saying that he’s paid down the lien and that he’s current on all the taxes he was obligated to pay under settlement agreements with tax authorities. So now what?
Just like any of our heroes, there’s times when he falls short. Look at Bill Cosby…you know what, that’s another story for another day. However, there’s got to be a reason why President Obama and so much of the world regards Sharpton as “the voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden,” he’s been able to champion the rights of Black people since 1969 when Jesse Jackson appointed him as the youth director of the New York City branch of Operation Breadbasket–a organization that focused on the promotion of new and better jobs for Black people. And that position set him up for a life fighting for the rights of Black people.
At the end of the day, Sharpton’s financial woes have nothing to do with his contributions to the Black community. But I don’t have to speak for Sharpton. I’ll let him tell it:
“A lot of people don’t like the fact that President Obama is the president; a lot of people do not like the fact that Bill de Blasio won for mayor. And they certainly don’t like the fact that I’m still here. And I ain’t going nowhere.”