Alfred Charles Sharpton is a civil rights activist known for his racially charged, incendiary rhetoric…. Sharpton was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1954, to comparatively prosperous parents. He demonstrated considerable verbal dexterity at an early age and was touted as “the Wonder Boy Preacher” by age 7, when he toured with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and F.D. Washington, the Pentecostal minister of the Washington Temple Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn. Washington personally ordained Sharpton a minister at age 9….
Sharpton dropped out of Brooklyn College after two years and has had no additional higher education or formal seminary training since….
A 2002 telecast of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel showed a 1983 FBI surveillance video in which Sharpton was taped discussing a money-laundering scheme with mobster-turned-informant Michael Franzese, onetime captain for the Colombo crime family. On the tape, Sharpton appeared to offer to broker a meeting between Don King and a South American drug lord. No indictments were filed.
Sharpton first entered the national consciousness in November 1987, when he injected himself into the case of 15-year-old Tawana Brawley, who claimed that she had been abducted, raped, and smeared with feces by a mysterious gang of six whites that included some law-enforcement officers in Dutchess County, New York. Despite a complete absence of any credible evidence, Sharpton (along with attorneys Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason) made increasingly wild accusations, culminating in charges that then-Duchess County assistant prosecutor Steve Pagones was one of Brawley’s assailants. Sharpton appeared on the Phil Donahue and Geraldo Rivera programs, Nightline, and other local and national television shows repeating his claims about Pagones and calling him a sexual predator. Brutal anti-Semitic statements were made by both Sharpton and Maddox about New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams….
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