National Action Network
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In the spirit of the civil rights movement, the National Action Network attempts to address the social and economic injustice experienced by blacks in the United States. The National Action Network is headquartered in Harlem, New York, but currently has over forty active chapters nationwide.
The organization's Board of Directors, which includes the nation's most influential ministers, is chaired by Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson. The Board of Directors has a tradition of including those most recognized in the civil rights movement, as it was first chaired by Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Pastor Emeritus of Canaan Baptist Church, New York, and former Executive Director to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to Dr. Walker, the late Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, and her son, Martin Luther King, III, support the organization and participate annually in the Keepers of the Dream Awards Dinner and National Convention.
According to IRS filings, the organization paid Sharpton $241,402 plus personal expenses for 2011.
The National Convention draws leaders from media, business, politics and the civil rights movement from across the country. The 2007 convention featured six presidential candidates and was dubbed by the media as the "Sharpton Primary."
National Action Network has established chapters in a wide variety of cities throughout the nation. The most recent chapter to be established is in Boston and is headed by Dr. B. J. Smith.
Issues of focus
The National Action Network is widely credited with drawing national attention to such critical issues as racial profiling, police brutality, and the US Naval bombing exercises on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Notably, the organization was prominently involved with the police brutality cases of Amadou Diallo (New York), Abner Louima (New York) and Patrick Dorismond (New York).
|“||I tell young people all the time - and most of the National Action Network leadership in our chapters are younger than me — you have to make a choice at some point in your life: are you going to do something about what angers you, or do you want to just be angry? Because I learned a long time ago that those in power don’t care that you’re angry, they care if you use that anger to do something about it.||”|
In 1999, the organization launched The Madison Avenue Initiative or "MAI", a program designed to address the inequities in the advertising industry. MAI was created after a racially charged memorandum, infamously dubbed, "The Katz Memo", was circulated among certain radio stations, stating that advertisers wanted "prospects, not suspects". The recognition of this memorandum set off an investigation into the spending practices of corporations, specifically examining whether their advertising budgets with African-American and Latino publications and advertising agencies was commensurate with their consumer bases.
In 2000, the organization launched the Truth Hamer Voter Registration and Education Initiative. The Truth Hamer Initiative set out to register one million women to vote, targeting populations in traditionally overlooked areas, such as public housing developments, transitional housing communities and rural areas.
In 2007 the organization launched the Decency Initiative, headed by Tamika Mallory. The Decency Initiative's initial aims are to prohibit the use of three words in music - the "N" word, the "B" word and "ho." On May 3, James Brown's birthday Reverend Sharpton, Tamika Mallory, NYC Councilwoman Darlene Mealey and the children of James Brown marched with over 1,000 supporters on several music studios in midtown Manhattan.
In 2011, Walgreens announced they would be ending their relationship with Express Scripts, a prescription drug program serving mostly poor individuals that gave them discounted prescriptions. This would have resulted in low-income individuals paying up to 30 percent more for their prescriptions. A coalition of minority groups, led by Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, sent letters urging Gregory Wasson, CEO of Walgreens, to reconsider. Groups sending letters were National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality, Hispanic Leadership Fund, and others.
The United States and the New York State governments have investigated the organization for tax payment irregularities. As late as 2006 (the most recent year for which documents are available), the National Action Network owes $1.9 million in payroll taxes and penalties.
Sharpton has engaged in controversial donation policies — specifically the practice of threatening protests and boycotts of corporations while simultaneously soliciting donations and sponsorships from them. According to the New York Post, several major corporations, including Anheuser-Busch and Colgate-Palmolive, have donated thousands of dollars to the National Action Network. The Post asserted that the donations were made to prevent boycotts or rallies by the National Action Network.
- Interview with Al Sharpton, David Shankbone, Wikinews, December 3, 2007.
- Thrush, Glenn (April 20, 2007). "Rutgers team skips Clinton meeting". Newsday. Archived from the original on June 3, 2007. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- "Topic Galleries". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- "Document Drop: Al Sharpton V. Walgreens | New York Daily News". Nydailynews.com. 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- "Largest Latino Religious Group Joins Chorus Critical of Walgreens Plans to Abandon Lower-income & Minority Communities Would Consider Urging Boycott if Course not Changed - The Business Journals". Bizjournals.com. 2011-12-28. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- "Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Warns Walgreens Decision to Drop Express Scripts...". Prnewswire.com. 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- "Hispanic Leadership Fund to Walgreens: Dispute Threatens Health Care Options for Millions". PRNewswire. Dec. 16, 2011. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- Chuck Bennett, "Subpoena Blitz Puts Heat on Al", New York Post, June 19, 2008.
- Isabel Vincent and Susan Edelman, "Rev. Al Soaks Up Boycott Bucks: Biz Giants Pay or Face Race Rallies", New York Post, June 15, 2008.
|Wikinews has related news: Al Sharpton speaks out on race, rights and what bothers him about his critics|
- National Action Network official site