On Tuesday March 27, the Rev. Dr. Al Sharpton, Ada Sharpton’s youngest son, eulogized at her funeral at Center Baptist Church in Newville, Ala. The service was attended by notables such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III, Judge Greg Mathis and Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP.
A letter from the president and first lady of the United States, Barack and Michelle Obama, was read by the Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and chairman of the National Action Network.
Ada Essie Richard was born the second child of Mattie D. (Carter) Richard and Emmet Richard on Sept. 28, 1925, in Springfield, Ohio. They moved back to Abbeville, Ala., where she and her sister, Redell, had been raised.
She married John A. Glasgow in 1938 and bore Thomas Jefferson “Sonny” Glasgow in August 1940 and Ernestine “Tina” Glasgow in October 1945. The couple moved to New York while Sonny and Tina remained in Alabama under the care of their maternal grandparents. Later, their marriage became difficult and the couple split up.
In 1951, Ada married Alfred Sharpton and bore two children in Brooklyn, N.Y.–Charidean “Joy” Sharpton in November 1951 and Alfred Sharpton Jr. in October 1954.
She was originally a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn until the family joined Washington Temple Church of God in Christ, also in Brooklyn, where she was on the Usher Board for many years.
Both Tina and Sonny Glasgow came to live with Sharpton. Her younger daughter, Joy, was a gifted artist and singer by age 7, and her son Al was known as the “Wonder Boy Preacher” by age 4. The family was constantly on the go, traveling to preaching engagements and other social, religious and cultural gatherings.
They moved to Hollis, Queens, and owned several construction businesses and more than 20 apartment buildings in Brooklyn. However, the couple split in 1964. At that point, Sharpton’s older children were grown and she was left to raise her younger children as a single parent.
With many emotional and financial struggles in full swing in their lives, Sharpton began working as a part-time maid and cleaning woman while trying to keep up the image and lifestyle she and her younger children were accustomed to. She was known for her Thursday night family dinners, where she would lay out a Thanksgiving spread every week.
Ada became president of Mothers in Action and became a politically involved mother to a vast and growing community of fatherless children, a role model to single mothers, a missionary of hope, a community cook, healer and friend to the powerful, rich and influential. She became a mother to us all, the High Priestess.
In 1989, Sharpton moved to Dothan, Ala., with her daughter Tina and started life anew there as a senior. She brought wisdom and love to everyone she touched and planted within them seeds of love, faith, forgiveness and reverence of God.
In her later years, as dementia set in and she became an Alzheimer’s victim and diabetic, Sharpton still inspired greatness among all her children, spreading love wherever she went and giving us all something wonderful to aspire to be against all odds.
She leaves to mourn her four children, Sonny, Tina, Joy and Al; 10 grandchildren; and a host of great-grandchildren, relatives and friends.