Rev. Al Sharpton: Four Things You Didn't Know
How did he lose weight, when did he start preaching and how many arrests has he had?
Many people think they’ve got the Rev. Al Sharpton all figured out. Conservatives have branded him a “race hustler” who stays in the spotlight by capitalizing on the misfortunes of African Americans. Liberals may sometimes question his motives but grudgingly respect his years as a civil rights activist.
Now that Sharpton hosts a television show on MSNBC, “Politics Nation,” the public is getting to see the minister as a three dimensional person rather than solely as a figurehead for the African-American community.
Here are four things you might not have known about Sharpton.
He Could Relate to the King of Pop
Sharpton told the Los Angeles Times that he began preaching at the age of 4. A child prodigy of sorts, the Church of God in Christ ordained him five years later.
“I started in civil rights when I was 12. I became director for Operation Breadbasket under William Jones and Jesse Jackson when I was 13 years old,” he said. “One of the reasons Michael Jackson and I got along and I ended up doing the eulogy at his memorial is we used to talk about how neither one of us had a childhood. He grew up onstage; I grew up behind the pulpit.”
His Many Arrests
Sharpton says he’s been arrested more than 30 times for protesting the murders of youth, police brutality, racial profiling and related issues.
During a protest in 1991 in the largely Italian-American neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn— where a white mob killed black youth Yusuf Hawkins the year before — a man name Michael Riccardi stabbed Sharpton. The civil rights activist was 36 at the time. Today he’s 57.
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He’s Not Just an Advocate for Blacks
Contrary to popular belief, Sharpton doesn’t just stand up for the rights of black people. The activist has also advocated for immigration reform and its potential to better the lives of Latinos.
Just last month, Sharpton participated in the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights and immigration reform in Alabama. He called Alabama’s new laws to crack down on undocumented immigrants “horrendous” and said they violated the public’s civil rights.
How He Lost Weight
After Sharpton’s presidential run in 2004, he ballooned up to 250 pounds. Two years ago, Sharpton became determined to discipline himself when it came to eating. He began to eat meals composed mostly of salads, chicken and fish and drank coffee and tea. Last year, he cut out the coffee, and the chicken. Instead, he eats fish twice a week as well as salads and fruit. He now weighs about 165 pounds.