Al Sharpton on set.
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Rev. Al Sharpton answered your civil rights questions


Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. In reflection, Al Sharpton responded to your questions from the Civil Rights Summit

Gwendolyn#1: Hello Rev. Al: How can we galvanize all Democrats, liberals, women, entertainers, etc., to get out and vote in order to keep the Senate? If the Republicans take the Senate, we are in for a very hard life. Thanks.

Al Sharpton: We must let them know what is at stake. Many things we take for granted, like voting rights, the right of women to choose, affirmative action, aid to students, all of that is in jeopardy. They must understand that this election is about the very rights that we enjoy, as well as the safety net that many of us, even today, depend on for a step up in society. In the sense of all of the things we know in this country, in terms of rights and support of the middle class, this is a do-or-die election, and that’s how it’s got to be pushed. 

kjshdrider: Do you feel that people who have successfully finished probation should have their voting rights reinstated?

Al SharptonI do feel that people that have successfully completed their probation should be reinstated. You cannot tell people that if they violate the law and/or make a mistake they must pay their debt to society, but then once they paid they continue to pay. If you have to follow the laws, and you should, you should then be able to be restored to elect the lawmakers, and it’s a contradiction to do otherwise in my opinion.

Kenny Wigley: Hi Rev. What can be done by executive order of the president to ensure voting rights? Our most basic fundamental right as a citizen is to vote. We have fought this battle before. How is this now an issue in 2014?

Al SharptonHe should use whatever powers he has in executive order to make sure that the federal government under his domain does not allow a lot of these laws to disenfranchise federal workers, to disenfranchise federal monitors. He ought to use it to not only uphold federal law and the appliance of federal law, which has oversight over state laws in terms of the federal employees that he can direct by executive orders, but he should make sure to his power that we do not have states’ rights nullify federal rights in how he directs the Justice Department in their purview on these matters. 

Gertrude Peace: How can the education system do a better job in teaching children more about the unsung heroes such as Fannie Lou Hamer and A. Philip Randolph of the Civil Rights movement so that they know that people like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were not the only significant people of the movement?

Al SharptonWe should include the unsung heroes in our history books, both in social media education and in the classroom, because people need to understand as great as some of the figures were that we’re familiar with, it was a movement that had different people playing different roles. And had there not been a Fannie Lou, or an A. Philip Randolph, or a Bayard Rustin, then the things that were achieved by Dr. King and others whose names we’re more familiar with could not have happened. They operated as a movement, not just one mover. 

Sonya Simmons: I want to know how you feel about the growing epidemic of black-on-black crime in in cities around the world, in the the urban communities, and why our black leaders never seem to address black-on-black crime.

Al SharptonI’m very appalled by it, which is why through National Action Network, the civil rights group I chair, and through my shows – radio and TV – I constantly cover gun violence. I constantly cover what’s going on in the black community. We’ve initiated programs, including Occupy the Corners, where we’ve gone and stayed overnight on the corners of where there’ve been a lot of shootings in urban America all over the country. We’ve done a Chicago experiment where I actually moved into the west side for a two- or three-month period trying to highlight this. It is something that is, to me, the worst nightmare for a civil rights activist, that you have to fight the external forces that hold us down, and then you have to deal with this butchering that many of us are doing one to another.