Preaching prodigy, FBI informant, civil
rights leader, stabbing victim, Senate candidate, mayoral
candidate, slander defendant -- the controversial Rev.
Al Sharpton's resume covers a lot of ground.
Among his career highlights:
Baptized at age 3, Sharpton delivered his first sermon
a year later: "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled."
At 10, he was an ordained Pentecostal minister. The
preacher showed a taste for politics, too.
At age 14, Sharpton ran a local Congressional
campaign and rubbed elbows with Jackson and U.S. Rep.
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. After graduating high school,
he became youth coordinator for U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm's
1972 presidential campaign.
Sharpton's life took another turn
in 1973, when he was befriended by singer James Brown.
The "Godfather of Soul" had recently lost
his son, Teddy, in an auto accident, and Sharpton became
something of a surrogate son.
Sharpton emerged in the mid-1980s as
a self-promoting spokesman for the Black community.
He became known as "Reverend 911," answering
every call for assistance.
Sharpton scored a victory when several
white Howard Beach youths were convicted in 1987 of
chasing a Black man to his death. But his next major
case, involving a teen named Tawana Brawley that was
called a lie by a grand jury and is the basis of the
current lawsuit, was nearly his undoing.
Sharpton was subsequently revealed
as an FBI informant, indicted (and acquitted) of tax
evasion, and blamed by a majority of New Yorkers for
the city's racial woes.
He bounced back, mounting two U.S. Senate campaigns
and slowly becoming a voice of reason. Sharpton was
complimented for staying above the mud-slinging of the
1992 Senate race with Robert Abrams, Geraldine Ferraro
and Elizabeth Holtzman.
In the most recent New York City mayoral
race, in which he missed forcing a runoff with Ruth
Messinger by a few votes, he became a leading critic
of the alleged police torture of a Haitian immigrant
last month -- a case that appears to have won him support
in the polls.
Credit: Associated Press