Rev. Al Sharpton Lectures at MEC

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the longtime civil rights activist and president of the National Action League, recently offered an audience at MEC advice on fighting for their rights in a new political climate.

Sharpton was the inaugural speaker on Monday, Oct. 30 at a lecture series hosted by the College’s Male Development and Empowerment Center.  The series is designed to expose MEC students and the Central Brooklyn community to experts in a variety of fields. In his lecture on civic education and engagement, Sharpton called on students to define themselves, set goals, and learn how to take life’s inevitable punches.

 ‘You’re in a climate in the country where they’re not going to make excuses for you and could care less about the excuses you make for yourself,” Sharpton said.  He later added: “It’s been worse than this and people made it anyhow.”

Each day at MEC, students should ask themselves why they are here and what is their purpose in life, he said. And they should honor those who invest in them and believe in them.

“My point to you, particularly black, particularly Latino men, is you’ve got to figure out where you’re going,” Sharpton said. “Calculate and factor in all that is against us, but say “I’ll do this.’”

Lacing his lecture with personal anecdotes, Sharpton recalled learning early of the divides between the haves and the have-nots.  His father abandoned their family and they fell on hard times in their new neighborhood of Brownsville. Sharpton was only 10 when he realized that the neighborhood lacked services like regular garbage collection and timely ambulance service, things that he once took for granted.

He also recalled that although he was a pentecostal boy preacher (and signed his school papers Rev. Sharpton), his teacher told him that he was not properly ordained. “I say that to say ‘don’t let others define who you are, “Sharpton said.

It is also important to ignore the cheers and the jeers of others, he added.  Sharpton drew laughter as he recounted the times he talked to himself in the mirror and constituted his own fan club.

Sustaining and building a political movement is also a far more difficult task than many young people believe, he said. “You can’t have three rallies and call that a movement,” he said. Rather, it requires time and commitment to keep fighting back.

“If you stand for something and keep fighting, you never know what you can do,” he said.