The Civil Rights Leader was invited by
… the College Libertarians
by David Kennedy
This past week, “in the spirit of fairness,” the Fordham Libertarians, in cooperation with the College Republicans, invited the Reverend Al Sharpton to speak on campus. For those who don’t know, Sharpton, along with being a Baptist minister and New York native, is a civil rights leader who got his start during the Civil Rights movement. His resume is a mile long, but most recently he was an informal political adviser the Barack Obama, he has been involved with the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and he has hosted talk shows on radio and MSNBC. The Facebook invitation for “An Evening with Al Sharpton” implies the libertarians conceived this event as an attempt to demonstrate open-mindedness, and an interest in differing viewpoints after former Trump campaign manager Roger Stone’s controversial visit in October.
Sharpton was originally scheduled to come in December, but a cancelled flight forced him to reschedule his visit till late February. The turnout was pretty good considering the event landed in the middle of midterms. The audience was mostly comprised of male Fordham students wearing their “I’m-interested-in-politics” suits. Al Sharpton was introduced twice, first by a female Fordham student, then by the head of the Fordham Libertarians, who wanted to know if Roger Stone was lying when he said he’d had lunch with Sharpton during his visit in October. Sharpton briefly addressed this question, making it clear that he had not and would not have had lunch with Stone in October. Sharpton then expressed his feelings towards Trump, making it clear that he’s been opposed to the current president for a long time, not just as a political figure, but as a public figure and a businessman as well. “Trump has no core beliefs,” said Sharpton, after recounting his refusal to meet with the president when he tried to reach out to black leaders in 2015.
For the bulk of the evening, Sharpton discussed the imperative to ban the sale of assault weapons in America. The recent mass shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has prompted nationwide protests in colleges and high schools. Students from around the country, especially in Florida and DC, are staging protests and walkouts, rallying behind the slogan “Never Again.” Sharpton expressed solidarity with these student protesters, commending them for their aim to directly affect state legislation. If a movement of this kind doesn’t manage to pass any real legislation, Sharpton said, it is nearly impossible for them to have any staying power in American culture. He went on to discuss how legislation was crucial for the success of Martin Luther King’s organization, the SCLC, which was where Sharpton got his start in 1968, during the Civil Rights movement. The reverend also expressed the view that the only way to prevent these kinds of shootings is to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons altogether. Banning accessories such as bump stocks will not be enough, and arming teachers will not serve to prevent future attacks, according to Sharpton.
Towards the end of the event, the floor was opened for questions from attendees. The reverend expressed his views on Rand Paul, saying he likes him more than Roger Stone, and would have had lunch with him in October. Towards the end of the talk, Sharpton also said he was for the legalization of marijuana and was taken aback when this got the most applause out anything he said that night at a Catholic university.