The National Action Network’s (NAN) three-day annual national convention kicked off at the Sheraton Times Square in midtown Manhattan this Wednesday, April 6. The event will feature appearances from President and founder the Rev. Al Sharpton, Mayor Eric Adams, civil rights activists, elected officials, honored speakers, and a myriad of cultural leaders.

“This is the first time we’ve had a national gathering since the pandemic, and we thank God that we made it through,”said Sharpton in opening remarks.

Sharpton founded the NAN organization in New York City in 1991 as an homage to Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil rights work. There are now more than 110 active chapters across the country. NAN works to promote a modern civil rights agenda and equality for all backgrounds, and is widely recognized as the “go-to organization for families facing tragedy like police brutality, gang violence, gun violence, and loss of homes or businesses due to predatory lending.” 

“We have a double problem, Black community: we have to run from the cops and the robbers,” said Sharpton.

The convention is now in its 31st year of operation. Mainstays of Black culture and leadership, such as NAACP President of the NYS Conference Hazel Dukes and civil rights powerhouse Jesse Jackson, as well as the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and others, were in attendance.

NAACP’s Hazel Dukes, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Mayor Eric Adams. Credit: Bill Moore photo

“It didn’t matter what the issue was,” said Adams. “It’s the consistency that I enjoy about NAN.”
Adams said that NAN has proven leaders and thanked Sharpton for all he and his organization have done for the Black and Brown community. “Let me tell you brother, I’m mayor because you carried me,” said Adams. 

The first day of events centered around important conversations on elections reforms, voter suppression, voting rights, police reform, public safety, and public pension plans.

“We need change, substance. We don’t need performance activism,” said Sharpton. “We fight for people that need to be fought for.” Sharpton said that NAN has become an institution that backs victims because they don’t inherently have that support. 

NAN still holds weekly Saturday rallies in Harlem on 145th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard, and broadcasts at NAN’s House of Justice, said the website. They also hold a free Legal Night clinic once a month at the same location.

The day was capped in a ballroom gala that honored award-winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coach Brian Flores, NAN Group Vice President Camille, Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson, and U.S. Rep Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Thursday’s Women’s Empowerment and Networking Luncheon honors former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting:

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    Social, Economic, Educational, Justice!
    LMarilyn Crawford

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