When he saw that George Zimmerman, the man charged with killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in Florida, wasn’t being arrested, the Rev. Al Sharpton got involved. When concerns were raised that efforts to pass voter identification laws would suppress the votes of minorities, Sharpton once again took to the airwaves of his MSNBC show.
“Trayvon Martin’s family lawyer called me to get involved because justice was not taking its course,” Sharpton said. “George Zimmerman needed to be arrested, the evidence supported that.”
He added, “I did not come to Florida…to convict Zimmerman. I came to say what is good for one is good for all. Black, White, gay, straight, young and old, the same standards of justice should be applied to everyone.”
That’s why Sharpton is one of the Shine Awards’ Freedom Fighters.
Many pundits thought that African Americans, despite their strong support of Obama in 2008, would stay home this time around. The Associated Press reported that some Black pastors were upset at Obama because of his support of gay marriage.
But Sharpton rang the alarm on several occasions about possible voter identification laws in important swing states like Pennsylvania that many saw as thinly veiled attempts to suppress the impact of groups that supported President Obama, such as minorities and the elderly.
“If we’ve survived church bombings, brute force and more, we should at least be able to empower and assist the less fortunate among us to combat those who simply cannot win based on their own Party’s platform alone. We must take action; no excuses. The ones who are attempting to block us aren’t hesitating, and neither should we,” Sharpton said in a Huff Post column.
To drive his point home, Sharpton engaged in a “Voter Engagement” tour that spanned several states with voter identification laws.
It was Sharpton’s advocacy on this issue that many pundits thought brought minorities out to the polls in greater numbers than 2008.
And Sharpton took some heat for his actions. Prominent Obama critic Cornel West said Sharpton and other Obama supporters “sold out” to support the President.
“We cannot sit and ask the President to write an agenda to himself from us,” Sharpton said. “It ought to come from us to him or the Congress, from us to him.”