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Eric Garner’s daughter has responded to criticism that Rev. Al Sharpton’s recent Washington march excluded young activists.

Emerald Garner (pictured center), who co-chaired Sharpton’s “Justice For All” march last Saturday, noted in a released statement that National Action Network, an organizer of the event, asked her and others to decide on who the youth speakers were.

” No one but the Youth Co-Chairs decided the youth speakers – WE DID. After wrestling with whether there would be a program and getting confirmation that there would be less than 48 hours before, we each said who should speak.  “

The 22-year-old added that her family contacted NAN after her father’s death. The organization quickly mobilized behind them months before the grand jury refused to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s killing.

Garner also praised NAN in her words, noting she frequents their weekly events:

“There is nothing more grassroots than the NAN Saturday action rally in Harlem, NY, that my family and I have been attending every week. My mom often refers to the rally as her spiritual fuel, like church it has really kept us engaged and involved.  The people of NAN uplift, encourage, and support us to keep going and stay in the fight for justice for my dad.”

Garner’s statement comes shortly after Sharpton issued his own response to critics:

“I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to make sure that we can continue this movement and National Action Network for the next 30 to 40 years when I am gone,” Sharpton told The Root recently.

“Leadership cannot be willed. I can’t pass the torch. I can only keep the flame lit.”

Rev. Sharpton’s syndicated radio show, “Keepin’ It Real With Al Sharpton,” is carried by Radio One, the parent company of NewsOne.

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