As I often say, we have come a long way from the days of slavery, but in 2014, discrimination and inequality still saturate our society in modern ways. Though racism may be less blatant now in many cases, its existence is undeniable.
In 1999, I was in St. Louis with Martin Luther King III as we led protests against the state’s failure to hire minority contractors for highway construction projects. We went at dawn on a summer day with over a thousand people and performed acts of civil disobedience.
We have defeated Jim Crow, but now we have to deal with his son, James Crow Jr., esquire.
I’m a patriot in the truest sense of the word.
From racial profiling and being pulled over just for ‘driving while black’ to this new phenomenon of killing unarmed people out of some preconceived idea of fear, our lives and our children’s lives are not being valued.
Either we need to redefine what probable cause means and say that police are not subject to it, or we arrest officers right away just as we would with any other person accused of committing a crime. Either we write new laws or enforce existing ones; we cannot have it both ways.
Like myself, President Obama is the father of two daughters. He understands the obstacles that they face as women, but he also understands the emergency of the state of young black men in America.
The dream was not to put one black family in the White House, the dream was to make everything equal in everybody’s house.
The horrific cases in Ferguson, in Staten Island with the death of Eric Garner, and all across the country serve as stark reminders that we must have a say in who polices us, and how that policing is done. We must, we must, let our voices be heard on Election Day.
There’s no reason why children in inner cities or rural areas do not receive the same quality education or opportunities as those in suburbs or wealthy neighborhoods. If we truly believe in giving all citizens a chance to pursue happiness and pursue their goals, then we cannot continue to marginalize entire groups of people.
If companies can refuse to provide coverage for women, what other objections to the Affordable Care Act will we see based on ‘religious grounds’? For that matter, will ‘religious freedom’ be used as an excuse to discriminate against other minorities and disenfranchised groups across the board? Where will it end?
As a kid who grew up chubby, I just marveled at the fact that I could be thin.
Dr. King used Gandhi’s commitment to non-violence and to passive resistance.
It seems some have chosen to ignore or have simply forgotten the big-picture vision promoted by Dr. King and his kin.
I could have easily been a statistic. Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., it was easy – a little too easy – to get into trouble. Surrounded by poor schools, lack of resources, high unemployment rates, poverty, gangs and more, I watched as many of my peers fell victim to a vicious cycle of diminished opportunities and imprisonment.
Not graduating high school on time leads to fewer chances of attending college and obtaining good paying jobs, and creates instead higher chances of incarceration and unemployment.
When the culture of police departments is sometimes infused with bias or preconceived ideas against certain groups, there needs to be reform and retraining throughout. And unfortunately, we cannot rely on local departments to police themselves; we need intervention from the top.
Countries around the world have their own immigration laws and methods of dealing with a recurring theme: desperate people searching for peace from volatile parts of the world. And nations everywhere thrive and prosper from the contributions of immigrants and the children of immigrants – including right here in the U.S.
We’re not anti-police… we’re anti-police brutality.
I was raised by a single mother who made a way for me. She used to scrub floors as a domestic worker, put a cleaning rag in her pocketbook and ride the subways in Brooklyn so I would have food on the table. But she taught me as I walked her to the subway that life is about not where you start, but where you’re going. That’s family values.
In New York, you are competing with Times Square lights and all of that, so you’ve got to be 300 pounds and crazy to get anyone’s attention. Then, you can refine yourself. I always knew under those 300 pounds and tracksuits was a refined, slim, dignified man.
You don’t need any indictment in order to arrest someone; probable cause is sufficient to arrest civilians, so it must be enough to arrest police.
My message to everyone: the next time you hear about migrant children near the border, just picture them as your own. Then think what you would want our government to do.
During my 2004 presidential campaign, I was fond of saying that it was high time for the Christian right to meet the right Christians.
I’ve seen enough things to know that if you just keep on going, if you turn the corner, the sun will be shining.
I always beat the sun up in the morning. It’s the secret to why I’m double trouble.
One of the reasons I get so much joy out of my own children’s childhoods is that I’m having my first childhood myself.
If you can get the proper definition of trouble, then we can find out who the real troublemakers are.
James Brown became my father. He would talk to me the way a father talked to a son. He became the father I never had.
The resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder is met with both pride and disappointment by the Civil Rights community. We are proud that he has been the best Attorney General on Civil Rights in U.S. history and disappointed because he leaves at a critical time when we need his continued diligence most.
Demonstrations must be dignified and nonviolent, as the overwhelming protests in Ferguson and Staten Island have been. Do not confuse anarchists who don’t want the system to work and thugs who want to exploit a situation with the majority who from day one have operated with impeccable nonviolence and clear goals.
We cannot reform institutional racism or systemic policies if we are not actively engaged. It’s not enough to simply complain about injustice; the only way to prevent future injustice is to create the society we would like to see, one where we are all equal under the law.
All women, regardless of her economic status or racial background, have a right to vote, and no politician or regressive law should prevent her from doing so.
As I stood and gave the eulogy for young Michael Brown last week, I kept thinking about the fact that this child should have been in college instead of laying in a coffin.
Let me be clear: as I have said repeatedly, I do not believe that all police officers are bad, nor do I believe that most are bad. But there must be a transparent, impartial and fair system to judge those that engage in criminal or unethical acts.
In Staten Island, when you have video showing the alleged chokehold used on Eric Garner, why not go to trial and have the officer(s) explain the tape, and then this jury can determine guilt or innocence? The tape should guarantee that there should be a trial.
In Ferguson, there are witnesses who say Brown had his hands up when he was shot. That should be enough probable cause to go to trial to then determine if Officer Wilson is guilty or not. It is at trial that he can then defend himself and his attorneys can present their own witnesses and their own defense.
The United States isn’t a dictatorship ruling with a brutal army and an iron fist, so our police departments must understand that they are there to serve and protect us – all of us. And when they do commit crimes, they must be arrested and prosecuted like anyone else, bottom line.
Who defines terrorists? Today’s terrorist is tomorrow’s friend.
I do believe the Democratic party has moved far to the right. I do believe that the party has a bunch of elephants running around in donkey clothes.
Bill Clinton strikes me as the kind of guy who goes wherever the polls lead him, rather than leading the polls.
How do you make things fair?
I was there during the first elections in South Africa. I watched them take down the apartheid flag and raise the new flag.
I’ve never done anything else in my life other than preach and be an activist. Way before I was known.
I’ve seen too much in life to give up.
If Charlton Heston can have a constitutional right carry a rifle, why can’t grandma have a constitutional right to health care?
If O.J. had been accused of killing his black wife, you would not have seen the same passion stirred up.
National Action Network, the group I founded, has affiliates or chapters in over 40 cities around the country.
The boxing world is full of all kinds of corruption.
The right wing always mobilizes around constitutional amendments: the right to bear arms, school prayer.
The United States government has the obligation to educate all young people in this country.
The United States has got to adopt a policy of befriending and creating allies around the world.
We need an amendment that gives us the right to vote protected by the federal government and the Constitution.
Everything from who sits on your local board of education to the prosecutors and judicial appointments in your area and much more are all impacted by who holds political office.
Dr. King’s general principles are universal. But the things he confronted took place in another era.
Evangelicals catapulted George W. Bush back to the White House.
I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, when it was almost a holiday when a black act would go on Ed Sullivan.
I was the first candidate to come out against this war, spoke at every anti-war march.
I won vice president of my student body in high school. That doesn’t mean anything.
If you play the theatrics too much, you get in the way of your own cause.
My ministry’s always been one of social activism. I think a responsible minister must be at some levels involved in the social order.
My ordination in the Church of God in Christ was at age 9, and I later became a Baptist minister, which I am today.
We’re not willing to give black leaders second chances because, in most cases, we’re not willing to give them first chances.
In order to establish peace, you must have fair justice for everyone.
I’ve learned how to measure what I say. Al Sharpton in 1986 was trying to be heard. I was a local guy and was like, ‘Y’all are ignoring us.’
I’m never going to be fat – never again. I’m going to make it easy on my pallbearers.
In every era going back to Lincoln with Frederick Douglass, presidents talk to those that were leading at that time.
I can call a march, and thousands come out, and I happen to have access to the White House at the same time.
Following Michael Brown’s death, I went to Ferguson and met with his parents. I stood with them as they tried to hold their heads high and deal with both their immense loss and the larger issues of police-community relations.
My organization, National Action Network (NAN), was on the ground talking and meeting with people in Ferguson, just as we did in Staten Island following Eric Garner’s death.
It is up to us to change laws on the books like ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws and push elected officials to enact regulations that hold police officers to the same standards as the rest of society. This is why we vote.
If the black vote does not come out in big numbers in the age of Ferguson and voter ID, it will empower our adversaries and enhance our marginalization.
When you loot or behave violently, you give grounds to those that try to justify illegal police abuse. You become the poster child for them to say, ‘See, we have no choice but to shoot and kill, or use a chokehold, because just look at the way they behave.’
Throughout my years championing for civil rights, analyzing politics and advocating on behalf of the voiceless, I am disturbed the most when harmless children suffer because of politics or detrimental policies.
As a preacher who has spent significant time in churches and houses of worship all across the country, I can tell you firsthand that religious liberty and freedom are principles that can never be infringed upon.
If it weren’t for the mentorship and guidance from people like my mother, James Brown and others, I wouldn’t have been able to make something of my life.
I knew from the age of four that I wanted to preach. I didn’t even consider it strange that grown people were listening to this kid preaching until I was around thirteen. I have never believed in limitations.
I very rarely read any fiction. I love biographies; I read about all kinds of people. I love theology and some philosophy.
We are engaged in immediate conversations with the White House on deliberations over a successor whom we hope will continue in the general direction of Attorney General Holder.
I’ve been able to reach from the streets to the suites.
I could take all the cartoons in the tabloid newspapers, but I couldn’t take my daughter punching me in the belly and asking why I was so fat. That was my inspiration to lose the weight. And probably the last time anyone hurt my feelings.
I actually lost more weight than I am!
I’ve gone from, you know, being too close to politicians, to being too close to entertainers, and people’s father that I’m not.
Local prosecutors work alongside local police officers on a regular basis and are therefore conflicted when it comes to prosecuting those same officers. They are under extreme pressure from local police unions and from rank-and-file cops.
When people discuss the 1960s and the great Civil Rights Era, they often speak in romantic terms as if there wasn’t immense work put in, and as if there wasn’t immense sacrifice that took place. But none of those battles were easily fought and won; there were sustained movements behind them.
When we look at the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and the tragic death of Michael Brown, we are reminded of the importance of who we elect to our city councils, who sits on our local board of education committees, who we pick to represent us in Congress, in the Senate and more.
Civilians are arrested every single day – including innocent ones – and they must wait until their day in court in order to argue their side of the story. Police officers must be subjected to the same rules.