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RISE UP by Al Sharpton


Confronting a Country at the Crossroads

by Al Sharpton

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-335-96662-9
Publisher: Hanover Square Press

The outspoken civil rights leader sees a nation in peril.

Baptist minister, former presidential candidate, and founder of the National Action Network, Sharpton mounts an impassioned call for activism. “The hardest job of being a preacher,” Sharpton writes, “is to eulogize the life of someone who did nothing. And so I say, give me something to work with.” The author believes that the U.S. is “at a historical turning point that’s testing our moral character and endangering all we have fought to gain.” A host of issues need bold solutions, he writes, including the criminal justice system, police brutality, health care, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, climate change, and environmental racism. He derides those he calls latte liberals, “a form of liberalism that smacks of privilege and cocoons itself by staying out of touch with the messiness that often accompanies real hardship”; the Christian right (“not right Christians”); and those who seek only to hold onto power: “the higher up they are in the chain, the more they want to keep things quiet lest they lose the power that got them to that position in the first place.” Sharpton unapologetically portrays himself as a showman who uses his personality as “a lightning bolt for good,” and he cites James Brown, Jesse Jackson, Bishop Frederick Douglas Washington, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, and, not least, his mother, who nurtured his belief in faith, activism, and responsibility. “If I walk over to you and knock you off your chair, that’s on me,” he writes. “But if I come back next week and you’re still on the floor, that’s on you.” For potential activists, Sharpton offers practical advice: Identify priorities, start small, do your homework, and understand your opposition. As Chisholm once told him, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

A fervent message in hard times.