This Aug. 20, 2002 interview with Rev. Al Sharpton was conducted just before his first appearance on "Meet The Press." He was live in the studio as most of Rob Redding's guest.


You’re about to hear something on the radio that is absolutely against the law! 

Giving you the pressing news that you need to know. Taking you off the political plantation! 

What the hell you talkin’ bout?! You have somethin’!!! 

He’s America’s Independent Voice: Rob Redding, on News and Talk Radio 1380 WAOK! 

All right, News and Talk Radio, 1380 WAOK; Rob Redding, America’s Independent Voice in the afternoon, at 404-892-2703, that’s 404-892-2703 to get into the program. 

Or you can always find me on the message board at on the World Wide Web from WAOK’s Web Site ( 

Do we have a show for you today! Giving you the pressing news you need to know first; not the depressing news, but the pressing news that you need to know first. A lot of stuff to get to, Business To Business has an interesting article on Hank Aaron, and all the good work he’s doing. Also, The Washington Times has an article on the NEA plan teachers are upset about; the UPA cell phone ban is possible now, we’ll talk about that. Also, that embassy takeover you heard about has ended; the Iraqi embassy in Berlin. And famine is said (now I don’t believe these reports!) to be looming in Zimbabwe. A headline- a St. Louis woman dies of the West Nile Virus, and a Houston woman’s death may be state of Texas’s first fatality linked to the West Nile Virus. And here’s an interesting story from Fox News that we also discuss this hour: religious language sparks Boys and Girls Clubs controversy; and this is from Fox News Channel, we’ll talk about that. But before we get to any of that, I have a special guest. You know, generally, I don’t do guests; and remember I told you, I’m the cake and anything else you get on top is icing. You listen to this show because it’s a compelling show to listen to, and we give you the pressing news you need to know, by reading more than 250 publications to keep you informed about the world, and when I’m not here you can find me at on the World Wide Web, giving you the pressing news you need to know first! One of the stories ironically we have posted on the Web today is here with us; and the story is from, and it’s talking about “Al Sharpton has been booked on Meet The Press (seen on the NBC tv network Sunday mornings)…(or Meet the DePressed, as I call them!) Presidential hopeful Al Sharpton has been scheduled to appear on the show for the first time, on the premier Sunday public affairs talk show, next week, his National Action Network Harlem office announced Monday. Among the topics that will be discussed include Reverend Sharpton’s 2004 exploratory efforts, along with a range of policy issues”, says a spokeswoman. 

In the latest Zagby poll of possible Democratic candidates, Sharpton drew 5% support, beating Senate Morality Leader Tom Daschle (some were surprised). He tied with House Minority leader Dick Gephardt, Senator Jon Kerry of Massachusetts, and former Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey. 

The Zagby Survey shows Sharpton one point behind Senator Joe Lieberman, whose selection Sharpton described at the time as “Political, racial profiling.” 

Mr. Sharpton, what did you mean by that? 

Al Sharpton: Well, I think that, when we look at the amount of people that have been loyal, and have been consistent with the Democratic Party, and the fact that we are consistently excluded from being even considered for the top of the ticket, I think it is very disturbing. You know, what I think we really have to deal with is we can no longer continue to support parties that do not support us. You know, one of the things they tell me as I travel around the country exploring this possibility of running for president, is
”Well, Reverend Sharpton, if you run, can you win the white vote?” The fact of the matter is no Democrat has won the white vote in 40 years. 

That’s right. 

Sharpton: Bill Clinton didn’t win the white vote. Al Gore didn’t win the white vote. 

They’ve been getting elected on the overwhelming votes of blacks and Latinos, and a substantial part of white votes. The question is what are we getting for it? Right here in Georgia, in a congressional race in the 4th Congressional District, ten years Cynthia McKinney’s been there, ten years she’s been a Democrat, her and her father helped elect your present governor. And the thanks she is getting for it is nothing. If minus nothing was possible, she would be getting that. It’s time for our people to let people understand that Confederate Politics is over. Why is that important, Brother Redding? 

Confederate politics…tell me more about this. 

Sharpton: Well, let me tell you why this is important. Whatever a Dixiecrat did, the Democratic Party never abandoned them. Lester Maddox chased people out of his restaurant with an axe-handle; the Democratic Party never abandoned Lester Maddox. Because Cynthia McKinney would dare ask what was going on with September 11th, and I live in New York, had people live in my house who had lost members of their family in New York, and they’re (Democratic Party) gonna abandon her? This is a double standard, it is a blatant disrespect and disregard for us, it is – there’s one level of accountability for us, another level of accountability for other people…that’s Confederate Politics. That is why people should come out this afternoon, and send a message that the Confederacy died in Atlanta, not revived in Atlanta, on this particular day of August 20th, 2002. I think that we cannot afford to continue to be taken for granted, and I think that there are far too many elements in the Democratic Party that think that we should be supposed to deliver to them, but that if we dare stand up and just raise questions, they can abandon us and we will not even question it, and we will sit at home and watch cartoons, rather than protect our interests. 

Now you say Confederate Politics; I want to expound on that a little bit. Are you trying to change the direction of the Democratic Party when you say that, are you saying that blacks (one of the things we’ve been saying on this show is that blacks should leverage our votes, much like the Hassidic Jews in New York) and we should come to some kind of independent thought where we understand that just because someone leaves the Clan rally, doesn’t mean they stop being a racist just because they say they’re a Democrat, or a Republican? 

Sharpton: Well, I think that we have really got to study the options. I don’t take either one of those off the table. Clearly you can’t continue the (Democratic) Party the way it is, but clearly the talk of an independent movement is an idea whose time may have come, now. The Democrats have done to Cynthia McKinney what I have seen even in New York, we are running a man who has more experience leading the state than any candidate, and one of Clinton’s cabinet members is giving him a primary (Carl McCall). Uh, in Texas, Ron Kirk had to fight through a primary. So, you get no reward!! Rather than be the battered wives, of people that abuse us, if we can’t reform them, it’s time to file for divorce!! 

Heh-heh. We have Al Sharpton, Reverend Al Sharpton in the studio, from the National Action Network. We also have a colleague here, and we will acknowledge her as well… 

Sharpton: Yes, she heads the Truth/Haymer Voting Initiative – registering a million women to vote around the country, Marjorie Harris. We’re both here because we know that Georgia produced 2 great Reddings: Otis Redding and you. 

Well thank you, sir; I appreciate that. We’re gonna take some more phone calls; you’re gonna be here for a second, right? 

Sharpton: I’m with ya. 

All right! 404-892-2703 is the number to get into the program. Back in a moment, with more from Reverend Al Sharpton. 


All right, News and Talk Radio 1380 WAOK, Rob Redding – America’s Independent Voice in the Afternoon, at 404-892-2703… 


One hundred percent…. 


We have Reverend Al Sharpton in the studio, who’s in town. He’s live in the studio with us, on the program giving you the pressing news you need to know, first. We opened up the program talking about your appearance on Meet The Press, what’s taken so long? 

Sharpton: Well, I don’t know; that’s a good question. I think that a lot of it is that mass media rather interpret for the public the images they want; and they would rather give you 30-second sound bites, than really sit down and let people listen to you at length (at some longer length, anyway) discuss your ideas, views, and policies. And so people tend to get a keyhole view of you instead of a doorway view of you. And they’re able to spin that any way they want. 

We discussed during the bread a bit, about your run for the presidency, I know you’re still in exploratory committee – at this point, it seems as though you’re going to run. Are you going to run as a Democrat or independent? 

Sharpton: We haven’t decided. Certainly, uh, I think the Democratic Party is in need of shaking up…a lot of people that are in our base communities (and I’m not just talking about African American) are already there (on the independent front). But I think independent parties are certainly something viable and something we’re looking at. Are we there yet, nationally or not, I don’t know. But that is one of the things we’re dealing with in the exploratory committees. As you know, Dr. Cornell West and others are in that, and they have supported both Democrats and independents; and over the next two months we’ll determine which way we’re going. 

Now you’re releasing a book, Al On America, when will that be out? 

Sharpton: It’ll be out in October. Early October. 

What is the book going to be talking about? 

Sharpton: Policy issues across the board; how I view America today, what I think we should be doing in areas of the environment; criminal justice; military defense, military buildup. Across the board, what I see at this point, as challenges for the American Government and the American people. 

Speaking of foreign policy, there’s a perception that blacks don’t have a policy agenda, nationwide; and you were over in the Mideast… 

Sharpton: I think that could be nothing further from the truth. Clearly, uh, in my own experience, I would say if I decided to run, I would have more foreign policy experience than Bush did before went in. I was in South Africa when Mandela lowered the Apartheid flag. I was an official election observer. I was in Haiti, with Arasteid as an official to fight for democracy. I was in the Sudan, in Africa, investigating slave trading. In Rwanda (in ’94), I was there investigating tribal wars. Then in England and all over Europe; around democratic movements; as well as other parts all over the world. So from a personal vantage point, I’ve dealt with policy issues all over the world. But as a community, we have always, and I’m not just talking about Colin Powell, we have always had a hand in major foreign affairs. If it was Ralph Bunch, in the mid 20th Century around the Middle East, if it was Jesse Jackson or Malcolm X raising issues; if it were Martin Luther King, who probably energized the anti-war efforts. So I think that people that tend to marginalize our community try to minimize the impact of people from our community on world affairs. 

Speaking of Jesse Jackson, there are rumors of a rift between you and he. Is that correct, or… 

Sharpton: No. Reverend Jackson and I have had our tactical disagreements, in house. I grew up under Reverend Jackson. I started in the movement as his youth director when I was 14 years old; and sometimes your teeth bite your tongue when they’re both in your mouth. I don’t think I would have anything but respect, admiration and love for him, as a mentor. It doesn’t mean that he and I will always agree on tactics. It does mean that I consider him one of the most viable and productive people who have ever walked the shores of this country. 

If you were to run, would you consider him as a running mate? 

Sharpton: I don’t know that…if I were to run, I would consider myself lucky if I just made him proud of his investment of time within me. Whatever role he would play, or not play, we have a personal relationship. But I certainly would not interpret my relationship with Jesse Jackson in political terms; because it has been a personal investment of his, in me. 

Who would you consider for running mate? 

Sharpton: Well, I’m not considering running mates. You secure the nomination first, if I go Democratic. Before you do that, I think that there will be a lot of progressive people out there; and we will look at them as we go. I haven’t decided to run yet, so it would be premature of me to decide running mates. 

Could you possibly consider Cynthia McKinney? 

Sharpton: I would think it very possible to consider her in many things…today I hope people consider her for re-election. That’s one of the reason’s I’m in town. 

Now um, reparations. You weren’t at the rally; why not? 

Sharpton: I supported the rally, and in fact we had several buses go there, from the National Action Network. I have always supported reparations; I thought that in my efforts to support the millions for reparations, we could raise money and send people. And have others who have been pioneering in that effort, make the speeches; and that is what I had talked to some of the leadership about. But I clearly support the movement for reparations, and I clearly supported the rally this past Saturday by sending our people and by help pooling resources. 

I’m one that’s big for, really…suing these people when they wrong you. Like Farrakhan, with the Mideast comments, about how he supposedly was praying for a Muslim victory over America; as was reported by the press. Then he said he didn’t say that. I know about the drug allegations…in the video that has surfaced, mysteriously as you lead a lot in the polls. You are now filing this one billion dollar lawsuit: first of all, I gotta say hats off too you for that. 

Sharpton: Well, I think that what’s even more crazy to me, is to come up with this surveillance tape, that you say, “No crime was committed. He didn’t do anything, but we tried to sting him, and we’re going to show you that.” It is like a policeman pulling your car over, filming it, and after he finds the license and registration and insurance card, letting you go. But then 20 years later, he’s only showing people himself pulling you over and asking for your registration. That’s like them saying, “He didn’t do anything wrong, but we attempted to sting him. But we’re not going to show you the end of the conversation.” 

That’s absurd. The question you have to ask yourself is why did they keep the tape for 20 years?! Why would they have a tape of them stopping you 20 years ago, or of any other illegality when you didn’t do anything illegal? So the fact that they even preserved part of a tape (and I’m sure they have it all, which is why we’re suing) shows that there is some game play. But it also brings to point Rob, why I’m opposed to some of these new things, like the TIPS program, and aspects of the antiterrorist bill, which are presently put forth by John Ashcroft. They now are legitimatizing all sorts of ways to try to entice and criminalize people, and this is an example of what they would do 20 years ago; so you know what they will do today. 

Are you serious about this suit? 

Sharpton: Absolutely serious! 

Because the network (HBO) stands by there decision to air this video. 

Sharpton: Fine, and then they would have to explain in the court of law why they didn’t air the entire video. Let me say again, if someone would stand here and say, “I’ve got 30 seconds of a tape I have to show you”, you would say, “Well, how did it end?” Oh, nothing happened, why don’t you show me the end of the tape. The fact that they only showed 30 seconds and not the rest shows they have an agenda. You would not show just 30 seconds of a meeting, and know that much more than 30 seconds transpired. 

Would you settle this suit? 

Sharpton: Only if they show the rest of the tape, and make amends for what they did. 

All right. We’ll be back with Lily and Wayne who’ve been patiently holding. The number is 404-892-2703, and our guest is Reverend Al Sharpton. We’ll be back in moments on News and Talk Radio 1380 WAOK! 


Lily’s been holding the longest (about 30-35 minutes) you’re up and aboard with Al Sharpton… 

Lily: Hello, Mr. Redding! 

Hi, how are you doing? 

Hello, Reverend Al! 

Sharpton: Hello! 

Lily: I go back you with you and all the others. I want you to please analyze for me one thing; I’ve asked several people to do it, but I want to hear from you; analyze for me this particular, particular lobby from D.C.; and the Republican Party dirty tricks from D.C.; and the potential ruptures in the body politic that will happen by the way they’re going after Cynthia McKinney? And I want you also to tell me what it bodes for the future. Is it going to result in each group turning on the other, and not voting for members of another ethnic group? That’s number one, and please tell me, what kind of strategy we have in Georgia, if McKinney has difficulty and she does not win? Georgia has relatively closed ballot access, what do you suppose we do if this worst-case scenario happens? And uh, I want you to answer those two things for me, and I wish to say to you, that I hope you do run. 

Sharpton: Well, I think the ratifications are staggering. When you see in a nonpartisan primary, that you see today, the record numbers of Republicans coming out, forfeiting their right to vote, in state Republican elections; and coming to vote against Cynthia McKinney; what they will do is (if McKinney loses) then that will turn off a substantial number of voters, and it will lead to the state being turned into the hands of the Republican Party. If I was a Republican, I’d by praying that McKinney loses, so the backlash would lead to the demise of the Democratic Party. Which is why the Governor of Georgia and the National Chairman of the Democratic Party, to me, are not being strategically smart to protect an incumbent Congresswoman of Ms. McKinney’s influence. If McKinney, for some reason, goes down tonight, you can get ready for the rise of the Republicans in the state house, and it will help to enforce the 12% Bush won the state by, for the 2004 Presidential Election. The ramifications also are: that they will successfully try to create a permanent voting battle between blacks and Jews. The things they have tried before, I think it is against our mutual interest to do it now. For someone who for a decade has served, for a decade that has been in the party, for the party to abandon them, you cannot expect there not to be a backlash should they go down. Which is why people should vote with a vengeance, because you’re not just voting for Cynthia, you’re voting against people trying to manipulate and play one segment [of the community] against another. Denise Majette is probably a fine lady, but we’re dealing with a power equation that will be irreparably tipped to those forces against our interests, and our empowerment, if Cynthia McKinney loses today. 

And the second part of the question? 

Sharpton: In terms of…I talked so long I forgot… 

Ha…I think there was a second part of the question, I believe it was… 

Sharpton: Oh! In terms of, if we should lose, I think there will be a national meeting, to decide how we deal with the Democratic Party, if at all, from here out. Let me tell you what happened: 20 years ago, when Jesse Jackson first ran, one of the problems was in Chicago, in 1983, a man ran for mayor, named Harold Washington. The leaders of the Democratic Party came in and supported Washington’s opponents; Walter Mondale came in and supported Richard Daley Jr., and Ted Kennedy – who was supposed to be the patriarch of the Democratic Liberal Wing, came in and supported Jane Byrne. Because the Democrats disrespected Harold Washington so, the community took it out on them, and Jesse Jackson decided to run for President. If we sit by and allow the party to sit on its hands, and Cynthia McKinney goes down, we need to answer the party in a big way!! If we were sophisticated and courageous enough 20 years ago, you better believe we’re prepared to do it now, and it would not be limited to Georgia!! 

All right, Wayne; you’re up and aboard! 

Wayne: Yeah, uh, Mr. Sharpton, in a way I disagree with you. If McKinney loses, it’s going to be of her own doing. She has such a high profile against George Bush…but this is going to lead to a question here: if you look at the last set of national elections, we (Democrats) won 34 out of 42 or somethin’ of that realm – of all mayoralties. And I think the highest profile mayorship we took, was in Houston, with Mayor Tom Brown. We stood behind all of the candidates we put into office. 

Sharpton: We who? Who is “we”?! 

Wayne: I say that as an independent, but I vote more often Democrat than Democrat than anything. 

Sharpton: Then let me say this: Houston’s mayor is Lee Brown, not Tom Brown. But of, first of all, if McKinney loses, if she had lost with the active support of the National Democratic Party, and the active support of the State Democratic Party, and the active support of the Governor, you would have a point; saying that it’s the voters. But if she loses without their support, we would never know that if their support had came in, it would have made a difference. So, in your question, you’ve given the answer to your first point. Yes, the party did go behind Lee Brown. Yes, the party did go behind 34 races. Why didn’t the party go behind Cynthia McKinney?! Since you can bring up and rightfully so, where the party was supportive of 34 mayoral races around the country, then why was it absent for Cynthia McKinney? Are you saying the party held it against her because she was so high profile against George Bush? Isn’t this the party opposing George Bush?! If it isn’t, then they need to tell the rest of us Democrats that, because maybe, we’re in the wrong party!! 

Well, the question I guess, do we have to wait for Cynthia McKinney to lose, if not this time, then maybe later, or just to hang it up, and be disenfranchised with the Democratic Party? Shouldn’t we re-assess our standing with the Democratic Party? 

Sharpton: I think we have to assess it now, win or lose! Because that is why I’m raising the point: that, you’ve seen every Democrat in our community come here, from Maxine Watters to Jesse Jackson, and you have not seen the Democratic Party come in to support her, not even the Governor.