Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) celebrated 30 years of activism at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall Monday night with keynote speaker U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. The event also served as the 67th birthday celebration for Sharpton.
The event titled “A Celebration Above All” brought out a who’s who from New York’s political circle, national leaders and entertainers giving praise to NAN for three decades of fighting injustices. President Joe Biden, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mayor-elect Eric Adams, voting rights activist/author Stacey Abrams, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Kathy Hochul, actor Anthony Anderson and filmmaker Spike Lee gave remarks honoring Sharpton and NAN.
NAN also gave out its annual Triumph Awards to NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes, creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live” Lorne Michael and ViacomCBS Executive Vice President, Global Head of Inclusion, Public Affairs, Kids and Family Entertainment Brands Marva Smalls.
Vice President Harris’ keynote address was the highlight of the evening. During her speech she highlighted Sharpton and NAN’s legacy and the importance of fighting for voting rights.
“If we are truly going to give people the choices and the chance to determine their own future, we must protect the right of all people to raise their voice through their vote,” Harris said. “And we know our history well.”
Sharpton and Harris have worked closely on multiple initiatives important to the Biden administration like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the Voting Rights Act, and legislation that aims for equality for Americans.
Former President Barack Obama delivered a video message at the event where he gave birthday wishes to Sharpton and reflected on NAN’s impact on the nation.
“For three decades now the National Action Network has been fighting injustice and inequality wherever they exist,” Obama said. “It’s a testament to Rev. Al’s vision and all those who help this organization get off the ground. But it’s also a tribute to everyone who has sustained and strengthened NAN ever since.”
NAN was founded in 1991 by Sharpton out of the movement lead by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Over the years the organization has led non-violent action against racial and social injustices. The organization is notable for its activism in the police killing cases of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo.