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Sharpton kicks off silver celebration at NAN convention

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/13/2016, 12:12 p.m.
Rev. Al Sharpton cut the ribbon kicking of the National Action Network's National Convention in Midtown on Wednesday.
Rev. Al Sharpton speaks at the National Action Network National Convention Bill Moore photo

Rev. Al Sharpton cut the ribbon kicking of the National Action Network's National Convention in Midtown on Wednesday.

Sharpton was joined by a host of elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who gave Sharpton a proclamation making Wednesday National Action Network Day in New York.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are among the faces scheduled to take part convention taking place through Saturday at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.

Marking NAN’s silver anniversary will be members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet and leaders from a wide range of areas, including civil rights, government and business. Delegates will hear about a range of issues affecting civil rights, including the 2016 presidential election, police and community relations, education, housing, employment, health care and immigration.

The annual “Keepers of the Dream Award” will highlight the program Thursday, April 14. The event will honor Judith Jamison, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Raymond McGuire, Gloria Steinem and Andrew Young. Actor Anthony Anderson will host the event.

The four-day convention kicks off Wednesday, April 13 with a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by the panel discussion entitled “A Transitional Election Year with Much at Stake,” moderated by Al Sharpton. The panel will feature conservative AmNews columnist Armstrong Williams, Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta, Omarosa Manigault, and Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC.

Clinton will address NAN during a midday plenary session.

Later in the day, a panel discussion will cover NAN’s work over the past quarter century dealing with the many police killings of unarmed Black men, featuring attorney Benjamin Crump as the moderator and Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell, Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; and others.

Thursday, NAN Executive Vice President and General Counsel Michael A. Hardy will moderate a panel entitled “The State of Criminal Justice Reform in 2016,” with NAN Northeast Regional Director Kirsten Foy and New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. Late in the evening, Bishop Noel Jones and gospel artist Pastor Donnie McClurkin will host the “Truth to Power Revival.”

A discussion on HIV and AIDS in the Black community will feature Dr. Cynthia Davis, board chair of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Ingrid Floyd, executive director of Iris House.

David Axelrod, former senior strategist for President Obama will speak one-on-one with Sharpton in special presentation.

Friday’s session will kick off with an address by Sanders. Later in the day, there will be a panel discussion on violence in the community and incarceration moderated by Iesha Sekou of Street Corner Resources and including Erica Ford, founder and CEO of LIFE Camp Inc.; Abdul Muhammad, chairman of the New Jersey Anti-Violence Coalition; and New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak.

AmNews Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Elinor Tatum will be on a panel entitled “The Crisis in Black Media,” moderated by Sharpton. Tatum will join Black Enterprise President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. and Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence magazine.

The convention will wrap up Saturday with a focus on youth. Panel discussions will highlight young people and the future of technology, bridging the gap of the digital divide and youth financial literacy. There will also be a fashion show and discussion on art and activism.

The NAN Youth Hackathon Judging and Awards Ceremony will take place in the afternoon, with sessions on the water issue in Flint, Mich., and the effects of mass incarceration in communities. The school to prison pipeline will also be discussed, moderated by Education for a Better America Executive Director Marcus Bright.

Closing the convention will be a panel discussion entitled “The Powers and Limitations of Being a Mayor,” featuring various mayors from New Jersey. It will be moderated by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and former Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith.

Registration is still open for the NAN Convention. Please go to nationalactionnetwork.net or call (212) 690-3070.