Reverend Al Sharpton has released his new book, “The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership,” and he addresses every concern, controversy and rumor.
He admits his path wasn’t an easy one. “It took time, maturity, and growth for me to transform into the kind of leader who had the discipline to control myself and my emotions,” Sharpton wrote. “I learned by trial and error, making some painful mistakes along the way.”
Here are three moving quotes from the book:
Bishop Washington took me under his wing, with the intent of nurturing and guiding me so that one day I could succeed him as pastor of the church and maybe even become a bishop in the Church of God in Christ. I began to do the church circuit, preaching at different churches in the area. That’s when I went on the road at the age of nine with Mahalia Jackson, traveling with the most famous gospel singer in the world as her opening act, as the astounding boy preacher from Brooklyn. I knew Mahalia was huge, but I had been preaching for so many years already that it became second nature to me. One of my distinct memories from that period was opening for Mahalia at the 1964 World’s Fair, at the circular pavilion and replica of the globe in Queens that you can still see when you fly into La Guardia, next to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center where the U.S. Open is held. This made a serious impression on my classmates. So what was at first odd and amusing soon became a reason to hold me in a certain amount of esteem, or at least respect. They’d point to me, saying, “There’s the boy preacher.” But no more “ha ha ha” to go along with it. Opening for Mahalia Jackson at age nine will do that for you.
The relationship I had with James Brown turned out to be one of the most meaningful associations I’ve had in my life, the one that shaped a lot of what I eventually became.In 1973, when I was eighteen, James heard about my National Youth Movement and decided he wanted to help me raise money by doing a benefit concert. James seemed to really like me and took me under his wing. He started inviting me to his shows to help out, eventually bringing me all around the world with him and even appointing me his manager because he knew he could trust me. Our relationship became like father and son. In fact, James’ father, Joe Brown, once said I brought out the best in James because he wanted to live up to my admiration of him.
Those years with James were a heady, glorious time for me. I learned a great deal about human nature, about business, about the black community, about the music industry, and I met huge stars in just about every field imaginable.
Whether it was my search for a father figure or for a clearer idea of how to turn myself into a great civil rights activist, one big lesson I took away from all of the men I followed early in my life was the notion that in order to rise, I had to be focused and intentional and committed to a cause greater than myself. The word focus here is key. It’s something I believe I was lacking early in my career, when I too often allowed my emotions to control me. That was a mistake I made with one of the cases with which my name became indelibly linked: Tawana Brawley.
The book – published with Cash Money Content, the National Action Network, and other publishers – is filled with captivating portraits of society and race relations, as well as Sharpton’s wry sense of humor. It arrived in bookstores on October 8.