Al Sharpton on Civil Rights
Reverend; Civil Rights Activist; Democratic Candidate for President
It was those that earned our vote that got our vote. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats.
Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is that our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs. This vote is sacred to us. This vote canít be bargained away. This vote canít be given away. Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale.
SHARPTON: I think is not an issue any more of just marriage. This is an issue of human rights. And I think it is dangerous to give states the right to deal with human rights questions. Thatís how we ended up with slavery and segregation going forward a long time. I, under no circumstances, believe we ought to give states rights to gay and lesbiansí human rights. Whatever my personal feelings may be about gay and lesbian marriages, unless you are prepared to say gays and lesbians are not human beings, they should have the same constitutional right of any other human being.
Q: How would you do that?
SHARPTON: I would say that they have the constitutional right to do whatever anyone else can. Bush is trying to go from race baiting with quotas in 2000 to gay baiting in 2004 [with is call for a DOMA Amendment]. And all of us ought to be united that he does not scapegoat the gay and lesbian community like he did minorities four years ago.
A: No. The flag represents a thought, a philosophy and a political movement built on racism, slavery and rape. You canít redo the flag and what it stands for. We cannot rest until that flag is down everywhere in this country. It is a shame that you will take young men and young women from South Carolina, send them abroad, they die under one American flag, they have to come home and live under two flags.
A: No, I donít think so. I think it is wrong and distasteful, but I think people have a right to express themselves.
SHARPTON: I am unilaterally opposed to any civil or human right being left to statesí rights. That is a dangerous precedent. I think the federal government has the obligation to protect all citizens on a federal level. And if we start going back to statesí rights, weíre going back to pre-Civil War days, and I think that that, in its nature, is wrong.
DEAN: We do have African-American & Latino workers in state government.
SHARPTON: I said under your administration. Do you have a senior member of your cabinet that was black or brown?
DEAN: We had a senior member of my staff on my 5th floor.
SHARPTON: No, your cabinet.
DEAN: No, we did not. [But the cabinet has only] six members.
SHARPTON: Then you need to let me talk to you about race in this country.
DEAN: If the percentage of African-Americans in your state was any indication of what your views on race were, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King.
SHARPTON: But I donít think that that answers the question. If you want to lecture people on race, you ought to have the background and track record in order to do that. Governors import talent. Governors reach all over the country to make sure they have diversity
DEAN: The Confederate flag is a painful symbol to African-Americans in this country because of what it represented. When we campaign, weíve got to talk. They say race in the South or anyplace else in America, weíve got to say jobs, because everybody needs a job, doesnít matter what color they are or where they come from. We need to talk about the things that everybody needs: jobs, education & health care.
SHARPTON: Blacks in South Carolina are double unemployed to whites. We canít use a class formula to go around that issue. Secondly, just having conversations with whites without real legislation, without real executive action is to trivialize our problems. We donít need people talking to whites. We need people to do something about racism and about discrimination. Donít reduce this to a coffee shop conversation. We need action. And a president leads, like Lyndon Johnson did. They donít just have a conversation.
A: Iíve spent a lot of time trying to address the issue of youth voter registration. Weíve spent time on campuses in this campaign of all races trying to register young people. I think if we bring young people out, it not only is good for them, itís good for the country. You canít just lay down and accept being marginalized. Even if youíre knocked down, thatís somebody elseís fault, you have to get up, thatís your obligation.
DEAN: Rev. Jesse Jackson went to a South Carolina trailer park which was inhabited by mostly white folks making $25,000 a year. We need to reach out to those people, too, because they suffer as well. I understand the legacy of racism and bigotry in this country. We need to bring folks together in this race, just like Martin Luther King tried to do before he was killed. He was right. And I make no apologies for reaching out to poor white people.
SHARPTON: But Confederate flags are not for white people. Jackson went to South Carolina with all of us protesting the flag. The issueís not poor southern whites. Most poor southern whites donít wear a Confederate flag, and you ought not try to stereotype that.
A: I proposed that he just apologize for what was clearly an insensitive statement. You must remember, it was raised by one of the young people in the audience. I was frankly surprised that the governor didnít say that he was sorry if he offended someone. When blacks see that flag we are looking at a flag that represented murder, lynching and rape. That is no casual thing. For him to say in any way that that could be tolerated is extremely offensive to a lot of people. I think in reaching out to other constituencies you donít do it at the expense of those that have been loyal to you. It is not a big tent strategy if you offend those who are already under it.
SHARPTON: We need to have an honest discussion about what still separates us in America. If you read the Wall Street Journal and the Amsterdam News, you wouldnít know you were in the same town. We need to really talk about that in America. And a lot of people donít want to do that because itís politically risky.
SHARPTON: You have people that are waving the Confederate Flag. They didnít wave it in Baghdad, they wave it in Columbia. And you would talk about Iím a racial polarizer because I say that we should treat people with equal protection under the law. The Republicans try to float that. We can defeat that when all of us come together and have one standard. Thatís why weíre celebrating that 40 years [anniversary of the Civil Rights March] later in Birmingham this weekend.
A: I would definitely revisit them. They seem to be a throw-back to the COINTELPRO days of J. Edgar Hoover, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Panthers - making legal today what was illegal then. These ďPatriot ActsĒ appear to be using the legitimate fear of 9/11 to pass illegitimate legislation. This legislation is unpatriotic in the most patriotic sense.
|Other candidates on Civil Rights:||Al Sharpton on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader