In addition to the music, fashion and celebrities, the annual Essence Festival is a forum for contemporary politics. On Saturday (July 7) afternoon, civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton forcefully addressed the Essence crowd with a speech that called for action over complacency.
Sharpton began his lecture by pointing out that civil rights leaders of the past were jailed and killed for their efforts to secure the vote for African-Americans. He made it clear he had no patience for those in the audience who don’t exercise that right.
Sharpton noted that his fellow New Yorker President Donald Trump is poised to pick a Supreme Court justice, a move that, in Sharpton’s view, could turn back the clock on affirmative action and voting rights. Sharpton called for Democrats to do their best to stall the process.
On the subject of immigration, Sharpton turned to the Bible. He said that since Christ’s parents were forced to flee to Egypt to protect their child, they could be seen in the same light as immigrants arriving on the Mexican border.
The reverend also offered the opinion that it was absurd that in some states citizens are serving time for marijuana possession, while the drug is being legalized in other states.
After a mere eight minutes, the ever-controversial 63-year-old icon stepped away from the mic and strode purposefully off the stage as the crowd applauded.
Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music, and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.