Whittier College News Release
Office of Public Relations
13406 Philadelphia St.
P.O. Box 634
Whittier, CA 90608-0634
Media Contact: 562.907.4974
SHARPTON TO KEYNOTE
“DIVERSE IDENTITIES WEEK”
WHITTIER, CA (March 1,
2005)—Pentecostal minister, political candidate, and civil rights activist
Reverend Al Sharpton will give the keynote address for Whittier College’s
Diverse Identities Week—a program exploring racial and cultural differences.
Sharpton will speak on Tuesday, March 15, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ruth B. Shannon
Center for the Performing Arts, located on the Whittier College campus. General
admission is $5.00, and reservations can be made by calling the Shannon Center
Box Office at 562.907.4203.
The always-spellbinding, often-controversial Rev. Al Sharpton has been a
committed and energetic figure in the civil rights movement—particularly within
the African American community—for over three decades. While his supporters view
him as a charismatic and passionate spokesman, his critics contend that his
methods and speech are racially divisive and, in fact, destructive to the cause
of black civil rights.
A preacher at four and ordained in the Pentecostal faith by the age of nine,
Sharpton learned early on how to successfully move people to action, a skill
that earned him positions of considerable responsibility and recognition. At 14
years of age, he was named youth director of the New York branch of Operation
Breadbasket, organized by activist Jesse Jackson, which distributed food in poor
black communities. At 15, Sharpton founded National Youth Movement, an
organization devoted to the problems of black urban youth which he led for
nearly two decades; during this time, he also worked as tour manager for
legendary soul singer James Brown and as a youth organizer for boxing promoter
But it was in the 1980s when Sharpton truly gained celebrity status through his
involvement in a series of high profile, racially charged court cases, including
the Bernard Goetz, Howard Beach, and Amadou Diallo trials, during which he
organized and led protests and other acts of civil disobedience under the
watchful eye of the news media. Building on this newfound notoriety—and
continuing in his commitment to promote widespread activism—Sharpton established
the National Action Network (NAN) in 1991, an organization dedicated to
providing voter education, services aiding the poor, and support of economically
small community businesses, as well as confronting racism and violations of
civil and human rights. To this day, Sharpton remains NAN’s president and CEO,
leading weekly meetings in its Harlem headquarters and hosting a weekly radio
show, “Sharp Talk.”
In addition to his activist work, Sharpton is the author of two books and has
run for a variety of political offices including New York State Senate, the U.S.
Senate, New York City mayor, and, in 2004, the U.S. presidency.
In addition to Sharpton, the Diverse Identities Week program will feature a
lecture by Dr. Lester Spence, who will present “Ride or Die: Hip Hop, Culture,
and Politics,” on Monday, March 14, at 7:00 p.m. in The Club, also located on
the Whittier College campus.
The purpose of Whittier College’s annual Diverse Identities Week is to create
awareness and educate the student body about diversity and tolerance through
interactive and thought- provoking programming. Its goal is to take a stand
against discrimination by breaking barriers and becoming proactive about
learning and appreciating racial, cultural, religious, ability, and gender
Founded by Quakers in 1887, Whittier College is an independent, four-year
college offering a traditional liberal arts program integrated with both
professional and pre-professional courses of study. With an emphasis on
diversity, community, and curricular innovation, the College’s primary mission
is to endow students with the education, skills, and values appropriate for
global leadership and service.
Whittier Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association and is
a member of the Association of American Law Schools, is located on a separate
campus in Orange County.