We spoke to the civil rights leader about how his organization’s agenda has changed since the last time the president spoke at this annual event.
Back in 2011, when President Barack Obama last spoke at the National Action Network Convention, NAN’s founder and president, the Rev. Al Sharpton, introduced him,saying, “He took this nation from where most of us have never been in our lifetime and put us back on a solid course.”
Three years later, as NAN prepares for its 2014 gathering, which is scheduled to include remarks by the president for the second time since he’s been in office, the organization is strategizing about what it will take to stay on that “solid course” when it comes to voting rights, health care, criminal justice and a host of other civil rights issues.
We spoke to Sharpton about what he hopes to hear from Obama, why he has included a focus on the perspectives of black intellectuals and the concrete results he expects from the conference, which will take place in New York City April 9-12.
The Root: What is your primary goal for the conference?
Al Sharpton: The main goal is to come out with an action agenda for the midterm elections to protect our voting rights and to also make, in 23 states … “Stand your ground” a paramount issue as people decide what state legislator and congressional candidates they’ll support. The goal is to impact, from a policy point of view, the midterm election, similar to what we did with stop and frisk in New York City.
Every year we end our convention with what we call “Measuring the Movement,” where we lay out in each area the issues that are discussed and what we’re going to do on those things. We lay it all out, and the next year we report on what we did and did not do. This conference isn’t about socializing and partying—it’s action and accountability.
Source: The Root | JENÉE DESMOND-HARRIS