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An editorial in this week’s New York Amsterdam News, the legendary Black newspaper of New York, highlights the rise of Rev. Al Sharpton’s storied civil rights organization The National Action Network, which will celebrate its 20th year of operation April 6-9 at their national convention in New York City.

Related: NewsOne Columnist Rev. Al Sharpton named one of the “Top 15 Civil Rights Leaders of the 21st Century”

The editorial, written by the publisher and editor-in-chief of the paper Elinor Tatum, talks about the birth of the National Action Network in 1991. Tatum called the organization “the heart” of the continuing civil rights movement. She views Sharpton’s group as the premier civil rights organization of her generation in the same way that the NAACP and the National Urban League were to her parents.

“Happy birthday, National Action Network. For many of us, we literally might not be here without you.” Elinor Tatum

Founded by Sharpton in 1991, the organization was one of the first civil rights groups of the 21st century. From the onset, the organization’s mission has been to to address the social and economic injustice experienced by Blacks in the United States. The main focus of Sharpton’s organization has been to tackle three key areas affecting minorities in America  — the criminal justice system, social justice issues, and reducing verbal indecency within the African-American community.

The National Action Network is headquartered in Harlem, New York, but currently has over forty active chapters nationwide.

Key Moments:

– The National Action Network is widely credited with drawing national attention to such critical issues as racial profiling, police brutality, and the US Naval bombing exercises on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Notably, the organization was prominently involved with the police brutality cases of Amadou Diallo (New York), Abner Louima (New York) and Patrick Dorismond (New York). Sharpton also took the lead in protesting the Jena 6 case in Jena, Louisiana which garnered national attention. This past year, Sharpton held a march in Washington D.C. called “Reclaim The Dream” which thousands attended.



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