Slamming Al Sharpton for having lost touch with the needs of everyday black New Yorkers, a group of four African American pastors are calling for a new generation of leaders to arise, pushing aside the controversial activist many Jews blame for the Crown Heights riots two decades ago.
Rev. Johnnie Green, pastor of a church in Harlem, on Monday called out Sharpton for promoting his books and MSBNC show, and invited black New Yorkers to attend an Oct. 24 rally to reorganize the power structure in their community.
“While [Sharpton] is jet-setting around the country, people are going to our churches saying they don’t have money to eat,” Green said. “People need somebody to fight for them.”
“Sharpton isn’t a community organizer,” said Raymond Blanchette, a local bishop. “He’s a personality.”
Four Harlem pastors organized an group called, “Speak Out Say It Loud,” reportedly after Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota met with Sharpton last month.
“Lhota is running to Al Sharpton like he is the leader of the black community,” Green fumed. “He’s not.”
Faced with his biggest challenge in years, Sharpton responded quickly. “I challenge anyone to match what we do every day, all day,” he said Monday.
Sharpton called the coup as based on “jealousy,” and said that the pastors have reached out to him already. Indeed, on Tuesday, Green appeared to dial back some of his harshest remarks of the day before.
“We are not fighting Rev. Sharpton,” Green clarified.
Recently, Sharpton rose from his populist roots of 20 years ago, trading his jeans and colorful pullover for a suit and tie, running for president in 2004, and becoming a national talk show host and confidant of President Barack Obama.
Norman Rosenbaum, whose brother Yankel, Hy”d, was killed in the 1991 Crown Heights riots allegedly instigated by Sharpton, on Monday blasted companies who advertise on Sharpton’s MSNBC “Politics Nation” show.
“Any person who does anything to legitimize Al Sharpton is doing a gross disservice to their own integrity, and in terms of Al Sharpton the individual, the greatest concern is they’re legitimizing a fraud and charlatan,” Rosenbaum said from his home in Melbourne, Australia.
“Now he’s the expert on race relations? He’s the expert on nothing, he’s set race relations back decades. What’s he ever done for anybody? Really, by substance, what has he ever done? For MSNBC to be employing him is a sad reflection on them.”