Rev. Al Sharpton Preaches on ‘No Excuses’ at Howard

Activists Comes to Washington for One Nation Rally at Lincoln Memorial

Rev. Al Sharpton paid a visit to Howard University’s campus today, preaching on the theme of “No Excuses” just one day after leading the “One Nation Working Together” march for jobs and education to the Lincoln Memorial.

People are always making excuses and not using the God-given talents that were given to them since birth, Sharpton told the congregation at Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel.

“Everyone was born to fulfill a purpose,” he said. “There’s something unique about you that only you can do your way. If God can be meticulous enough to give us our own identity, he can also give us our own purpose.”

Before Sharpton’s sermon, Dean of the Chapel Bernard Richardson announced that today is the civil rights leader’s 56th birthday, and the chapel choir with soloist Roscoe Corner sang Happy Birthday and “Soon As I Get Home.” Sharpton joked that the hymn should be no indication of him going home. “I’m not that old,” the reverend said.

Sharpton has been on the cover of Ebony magazine as one of the most powerful 150 African-Americans in the country and was featured in New York magazine as the only African-American listed among the “Top 12 Most Powerful People in New York City.” He has repeatedly spoken on the measures that need to be taken for the advancement of African-Americans, and he continued that message Sunday.


“The new form of racism in the 21st century is the misguided notion of what black excellence is,” he said. “Acting dignified is somehow now seen as white, and being ignorant is somehow acting black.”


Sharpton urged everyone in attendance to stop making excuses about problems and issues they were having and deal with them as soon as they come. “Everybody’s complaining about it being hard times, but it was never we succumbed to the times, but we adjusted to the times,” he said. “The vision of Al Roker is to tell you the climate. Well I always say the vision of Al Sharpton is to change the climate.”


In his message, Sharpton joked with the congregation and gave students inspiring words to keep them motivated throughout the rest of their Howard careers and beyond.


“Many of us settle for less because it’s comfortable for us,” he said. “If you’re sick, don’t hang out with sick folks. It’ll make you feel worse. If you’re broke, don’t hang out with broke people. People see me on TV with Diddy and Jay-Z and think I got money, but I don’t have money like them. I just hang out with them because they’re rich, hoping they’ll drop a money bag or something for me to pick up.”


Richardson announced that Sharpton, the president of the National Action Network, hopes to start a chapter at Howard in the near future. The network is a not-for-profit civil rights organization based in Harlem that has more than 45 chapters worldwide.


Among other civil rights leaders, Sharpton played a vital role in burying the “N” word in June of 2007 and spoke on the criticism he received afterwards saying that every other race is exempt from being racially criticized but that the black community accepts discrimination.


“You can’t have a culture where the only ones you’re free to degrade is your own race,” he said. “You have to be careful how you define yourself.