National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender.
The right to equal justice under the law should not be conditional or based upon a person’s color or economic status. Over the last two decades NAN has been in the vanguard of the movement to bring such equality to every community that has been unfairly treated. Using the principles of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience NAN has helped to level the field and ensure a measure of justice for those who would abuse their status or seek to dispense justice based upon race or other illegal factors. Racial profiling, stop and frisk policing and police brutality were standard practice in many communities just 20 years ago. NAN has successfully changed that paradigm by ensuring that those who violate the law are brought to justice.These efforts were on display in the events involving the police sodomy of Abner Louima; the police killings of Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, and Ramarley Graham, among others; and the killing of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood “watchman.” Many of the anti-racial profiling laws on the books today are a direct result of NAN’s commitment to the principles and practices of Dr. King and the tradition of non-violent engagement. Through its advocacy NAN continues to impact public policy and ensure that government itself is held accountable to the law.
NAN works to ensure that every vote in every community across the nation is counted. NAN is leading the fight against voter suppression and voter ID laws and in 2012, NAN led a voter engagement tour to register and educate voters. Making history, America’s Blacks voted at higher rates than whites in 2012.
NAN promotes an agenda of anti-violence and the organization has been in the forefront of the movement to end gun violence. On a national level NAN has worked for stricter gun control laws and has played a key role in organizing gun buy back programs across the country. In communities across the United States, NAN has led “Occupy the Corners against gun violence movement which includes NAN members and chapter leaders taking over the most violent corners to take back the streets with peaceful rallies and vigils. NAN leadership sits on the White House Anti-Violence task force and task forces in regions where NAN chapters are located. Reverend Sharpton and NAN have brought together leaders in government, the community and youth groups to work persistently to stop the violence and foster positive change in the community to end violence.
NAN has worked on advocating at a federal, state and city level for job programs and to create jobs in the public and private sector. On October 15, 2011 NAN led thousands of people to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial to call attention to the country’s unemployment woes. Since then NAN has pushed for legislation geared toward job creation.
NAN has made corporate responsibility, inclusion, and diversity an important part of its platform and through NAN’s Madison Avenue Initiative the organization has made sure Black media entities, television, radio and marketing firms, get their fair share of advertising dollars, contracts and procurements. The largest ever deal NAN negotiated was with the NAACP and National Urban League resulting in an agreement with Comcast and NBC Universal to expand current diversity initiatives resulting in four Black and Latino television stations, the biggest civil rights agreement in our time with major broadcasters. The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) improved diversity in the areas of corporate governance, employment/workforce recruitment and retention, procurement, programming, and philanthropy and community investments.
NAN Ministers Initiative
The NAN Ministers Initiative emerged from the National Action Network’s Annual Convention in April of 2006 and has evolved to include diverse ecumenical leaders within the religious community. The Ministers Initiative promotes dialogue on social justice issues and the black church including the black churches’ responsibility in addressing the social issues that impact the lives of black men and women. The Ministers Initiative led voter engagement tours in the last presidential election and has been active in uniting the religious community around key 21st Century civil rights issues.
National Action Network and its president, Reverend Sharpton, have made equal education a key civil rights issue of today with an agenda of improving educational opportunities for all students and closing the achievement gap for minority and underprivileged students. In May 2009, Rev. Sharpton, Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with President Barack Obama in an Oval Office Summit on Education. Rev. Sharpton and NAN then engaged in a national tour with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former Speaker Gingrich to promote this educational agenda. NAN held a national rally on education during the 55th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. In 2012, NAN announced a partnership with Education for a Better America (EBA) to promote, sponsor, conduct and fund activities that will build an educational system that serves the needs of students in urban communities. The mission is to create a dialogue between policy makers, community leaders, educators, parents, and students; and disseminating information and findings that will positively impact our schools.
The Decency Initiative was created in order to reduce the degrading, racially insensitive and misogynous language and culture that has become pervasive today and to hold corporate America and the private sector equally accountable with racial sensitivity. The Decency Initiative promotes a message of anti-violence, self-respect and pride in heritage. It also advocates against the entertainment industry’s use of capitalizing off of denigrating lyrics to describe black culture. Recently, NAN worked with the family of Emmett Till to hold PepsiCo accountable for using a spokesperson that defamed and denigrated the legacy if Emmett Till.
National Action Network’s membership is open to any person or entity that promotes a doctrine of civil rights and fairness for all people. NAN members share a commitment to civil rights and frequently mobilize in regions across the country to protect equal rights and a modern day civil rights agenda. NAN members are granted access to monthly membership calls with NAN’s President and Founder Rev. Al Sharpton and NAN senior leadership.