Rev Al Sharpton: “They hope you won’t vote”


Rev Al Shaprton made a blistering attack on the UK’s political elite when he told a packed audience at Westminster University, that those who refuse to effectively tackle race inequality are ‘depending upon the fact that come polling day, Black people won’t show up’.

Because if we did, he added, we could not only vote them out but also demand those who come in to address our issues. Reciting from OBV political research, he said:

The fact that the Black Vote could decide 169 marginal seats means in this election you hold the balance of power. Now that’s real power."

Sharpton spoke about the ridicule he has received over the years from the US media when he said:

They would characterize me as fat Al, with a medallion in a tracksuit. I was the cartoon character. But ever since we got Obama in the White House dealing with issues of race inequality, I’ve gone from the cartoon character to their editorial. I’m no longer a laughing matter.”

He told Black Brits to reclaim democracy and take the smirk of their faces.

Rev Al Sharpton had been invited to the UK by the Oxford University student union, but he told those at Westminster University that it would be unthinkable to him to come to the UK and not collaborate with Diane Abbott MP and Operation Black Vote.

“I’m an activist, and will always be one,’

he said, adding,

just because I get asked to give a lecture doesn’t mean I stop being an activist, it only means that I’m an activist giving a lecture. I stay the same.”

In a 30 minute speech to touched audience on many issues, including the rise of Islamaphobia, the attack on civil rights, and the global toxic immigration debate. But at every juncture Sharpton would come back to that central theme of activism:

If you act you can change things, if you don’t act you are complicit with what happens around you.”

At the end of the talk Sharpton received a 10-minute standing ovation. It was a truly memorable day. But others speakers played their part too in this historical event.

Lee jasper, BARAC co-founder, had the audience cheering and clapping as he tore through the rabid elements of racist Briton and Europe:

“Too many Black people here in the UK and across Europe are catching hell with the scourge of racism that prevails over our shores like a dark cloud’.

And Diane Abbott MP gave a considered and powerful narrative about the similar challenges facing Black people in the US and those here in the UK too.

It was a great day. And in a way it can be summed up by an email I received yesterday. An attendee wrote:

Simon, that was a truly wonderful event. After you, Sharpton and others spoke it would be unbelievable if those who attended were not moved to act in a way that they have never done before."

She’s right of course. In the next few days we’ll get Sharpton’s speech in full on the website so you can be inspired too.

Thank you Rev Al C Sharpton and his team. This was just the start we wanted to our 2015 General Election campaign launch: ‘Our time, our success’.

Simon Woolley