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Profile of Rev. Al Sharpton, Activist and MSNBC Host

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Profile of Rev. Al Sharpton, Activist and MSNBC Host Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Rev. Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Activist:

Rev. Al Sharpton is a provocative, plain-spoken civil rights activist who often courts and finds headline-grabbing controversy. Sharpton is proudly partisan, and inspires great loyalty from supporters and great animosity from detractors.

Rev. Sharpton, a Baptist pastor, has been influential on public opinion for decades as both savvy media spokesman and passionate leader of activist organizations, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Youth Movement.

Sharpton was a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1988, 1992 and 1994.

Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC and Other Media:

Rev. Sharpton is the outspoken host of MSNBC's Politics Nation, a hour-long weekday program that premiered on August 29, 2011. Ratings have proven strong for the program, which Sharpton uses as a podium to decry racial, economic and other U.S. injustices. Sharpton had served turns as guest host or analyst for various MSNBC political programs for most of 2011.

Rev. Sharpton also hosts a syndicated two-hour weeknight radio program, Keepin It Real with Al Sharpton, since January 2006.

Sharpton hosted popular TV program Saturday Night Live on December 6, 2003, and has made cameo appearances in a dozen films and TV shows.

Al Sharpton on the Issues and Occupy Wall Street Movement:

Like MSNBC program hosts Dylan Ratigan and Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton is an unabashed supporter of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

On October 15, 2011, Sharpton and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka jointly led a "March for Jobs and Justice" in Washington D.C. to the newly-dedicated Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The march combined Occupy Wall Street protesters and labor union members.

In additional to racial, social and economic justice (which includes public education and public health), Rev. Sharpton advocates for gay rights and marriage.

About abortion, Rev. Sharpton stated in 2002, "My religion says that abortion is wrong. And while I may believe that life begins when the sperm meets the egg, and that only God should decide whether to take a life, I will not stand in the way of a woman’s right to choose. If women do not have a right to choose, then it’s a civil rights violation."

Personal Data:

  • Birth - October 3, 1954 to Alfred Sr., a landlord, and Ada Sharpton in Brooklyn, New York. Sharpton was raised in public housing projects by his mother, a cleaning woman, after his father deserted the family when Al was nine years old. One half-sister, Ernestine, who subsequently married Alfred, Sr.

  • Graduated in 1972 from Tilden High School, located in Brooklyn. Attended Brooklyn College for two years, leaving in 1975 without a diploma.

  • Family - Separated in 2004 from Kathy Jordan, a backup singer for the late James Brown, after 24 years of marriage. Two adult daughters, Dominique and Ashley. Sharpton was a tour manager for James Brown for a few years, starting in 1971.

  • Faith - Christian, Baptist denomination since 1994, when he was ordained as a Baptist pastor. Sharpton had previously been a Pentecostal minister since he was a boy, around 1964.

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