*Rev. Al Sharpton followed up his first biography, released in 1996, with his latest work, “The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership.”
In the biography, Sharpton opens up about his life since the release of his last work and how he transcended from a civil rights activist to a more controversial yet respected public figure.
Sharpton stepped into the public eye back in 1987 as the one of the first to support Tawana Brawley, a 15-year-old black girl, who accused six white cops of raping her in Wappinger, New York.
He was able to lend his support and bring national attention to the case. When a jury said that Brawley basically lied about the rape, Sharpton accused the county prosecutor of racism, which resulted in the Rev. being sued for defamation.
In “Rejected Stone,” excerpted by the NY Daily News, Sharpton revisits the story that he still carries with him today, what he would’ve done differently, and how he applied those lessons to the Trayvon Martin Case.
If I had it to do over again, there are things I would do differently, knowing what I now know about human nature, about the criminal justice system, about the media. The entirety of the case hinged on whether this young black girl in Upstate New York had been violated, as she said she was, by a white police officer, among others. Sensational stuff, sure, but there’s no way I would ever turn my back on a young teenage girl in need, even if her claims were going to turn into an explosive media story. That’s just not in my nature. But my first miscalculation was in making the case so personal — us against Robert Abrams, the special prosecutor. The lawyers I was working with and I did a whole lot of name-calling. In these instances, the right approach is to fight the case, not demonize the actors. Because when you allow it to become personal, you take away from the objective. Here’s a young lady who says she was violated. Let’s deal with the facts, what we know. You can conduct an investigation and try to determine what happened to her, but you can’t just ignore it because she said the perpetrators were law enforcement. That’s what we feared was happening, that the authorities were automatically dismissing her as a liar.
Years later, when I got involved in the Trayvon Martin case after he was gunned down by George Zimmerman, who still hadn’t been arrested, I never once even used the name of the sheriff in Sanford, Florida. That was after years of learning the danger of making it personal. Are you about the issues and getting justice, or are you about the sound bite and the name-calling? Hell, we used to call David Dinkins, who was New York’s first black mayor, names. What did that get us? Rudy Giuliani.
“Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership” is published by Cash Money Content and will be released Oct. 8.
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