Reverend Al Sharpton Jr. is an American civil rights activist, minister, television and radio talk show host, and a former White House adviser. Sharpton developed his commanding speaking voice at a very young age, as he was a frequent churchgoer, eventually becoming an ordained ministry at just 10 years old. Before learning to read or write, Sharpton preached his first sermon at 4 years old. He then traveled and toured with famed gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to deliver sermons. His successful civil rights career soon followed as he became the Youth Director of New York’s Operation Breadbasket, Director of Ministers for National Rainbow Push coalition, and founder of his own progressive civil rights organization, the National Action Network (NAN), one of the leading civil rights organizations in the world. Now, Rev. Al Sharpton hosts MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation” and a nationally syndicated radio show.
In 2003, Sharpton ran as a Democratic presidential candidate. During a “Rock the Vote” debate, moderator Anderson Cooper asked, “Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?” Rev. Al Sharpton responded, “I grew up in a church. We didn’t believe in that.” Sharpton made it very clear his relationship with marijuana, but now he’s taking a different stance, “Just because I don’t use marijuana as a Minister, does not mean I have the right to impose my moral values on others.” Although he doesn’t personally consume marijuana, Sharpton is calling for more black representation in the white-dominated weed industry. He will be the keynote speaker at the Cannabis World Congress Business Exposition, marking the first time he will publicly speak about the decriminalization of marijuana and increasing diversity and better inclusion within the marijuana industry. Sharpton will also discuss the disproportionate number of marijuana arrests of black people, who are two to four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people.