What do you think of Al Sharpton? I say he’s all about headlines. As I was getting on the train, I saw the paper, and it said “Al Sharpton’s Mad Again.” It doesn’t mean he’s not pissed off for a good reason. I don’t dismiss him.
Would you vote for him for president? I couldn’t see him holding public office. Tawana Brawley can’t be forgotten. If he wants to speak up about a social issue, I’m not going to throw Tawana Brawley in his face, but she’s still an issue.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape?I believe him if he’s saying it was an effort to derail his political future. What’s HBO doing with a tape like that? If it’s criminal evidence, isn’t it the FBI’s responsibility to make sure it remains confidential?
What do you think of Al Sharpton?I don’t really like him. His views are one-sided and he’s always in an uproar. He creates such a fuss.
Would you vote for him for president? No, because I don’t agree with his views. He’s stuck in a racist dynamic. He takes issues that aren’t about race, or that don’t have racial overtones, and makes them. I don’t know who I’d vote for. Unfortunately, Americans still aren’t ready for a woman. I like Janet Reno. She has a strong, loud, liberal voice and she can fight without caring what people think of her.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape? Why is it coming out now? The tape is 20 years old. It seems like it could be a setup. To take it out of context and edit it without explaining what it is, or where it was taken from, is bad. Sharpton would have gone to jail years ago if he’d committed a crime. Maybe Don King threw a fight but what else is he guilty of? If he or Sharpton did anything wrong, why didn’t the FBI arrest them in 1983? Maybe Sharpton’s using this to heighten his image. David fighting Goliath.
What do you think of Al Sharpton? He’s a character. I think he wants to work both inside and outside the system. He wants to wear nice clothes. Even though he may have traded his spiritual pursuits for more political ones—and I think there are inherent contradictions in that—I don’t think he’s totally about himself. He is a little grandiose. He’s also very intelligent. You always accomplish more with a little notoriety.
Would you vote for him for president? No. I do listen to Sharp Talk sometimes because I don’t think we’re completely connected to the African American community the way we should be. Sharpton’s whimsical and smart.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape?It could be that they’re trying to defame him.
What do you think of Al Sharpton? He’s an activist who champions the rights of African Americans. He often tries to be provocative, and he’s a media junkie. All this doesn’t dilute his message for the black community, but I think it does for the white community.
Would you vote for him for president? No. I don’t think he has the credentials, anymore than George W. Bush does. If Sharpton had held some public office, if he’d been a mayor or a congressman, maybe I’d vote for him. He’s a political activist and a minister, and I don’t like the mix of politics and religion.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape?I agree with Sharpton. Something about the tape and the timing is fishy. I have no idea who it would benefit to release it. I do know that nobody told him to wear that hat.
Occupation Audio-Visual technician
What do you think of Al Sharpton? In general, I have no problem with Al Sharpton.
Would you vote for him for president? It’s really the same deal with Jesse Jackson. I’d like to vote for him for president, not because he’s the best candidate, but because the election of Jackson or Sharpton would open doors to more and better candidates. God forbid Al Sharpton becomes president with a Republican Congress. I could see him wasting the opportunity and pissing a lot of people off. He’s not a comprehensive candidate.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape? His explanation sounds legitimate to me. You walk down the street and a lot of people want to sell you cologne or albums or Ecstasy. You have to be friendly and not engage. Maybe Sharpton was afraid that he was in a dangerous situation. In terms of the tape itself, I’m concerned about the timing. Why did it surface now? Why are they trying to shit on his name? It’s shady.
Occupation Fashion designer
What do you think of Al Sharpton? I don’t know enough about him. I’ve been living in England. There the left is emerging for the first time in years. Three years ago, I’d never have said that. The Metro is about to strike.
Would you vote for him for president? No. He does a lot of good, but he’s too identified with the black community to appeal to all Americans.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape? I think his response is right. I’d be pissed off too, if I were him. He’s a flamboyant guy who steps on a lot of toes. There have to be people who want to stop him. The tape’s 20 years old and it doesn’t show anything. It’s not like he’s the former mayor of D.C., who was caught smoking crack on tape. That’s a sad story.
What do you think of Al Sharpton? A lot of the time, I think, “Oh brother, here he goes again.” He’s a very controversial man who picks issues out of nowhere to fight for. Everything with him is racial. We should be moving forward, trying to get along. He’s really too focused on race, even for people of my race. He and Rudy Giuliani kept each other alive battling each other. Without Sharpton, there was no Giuliani, without Giuliani, there was no Sharpton.
Would you vote for him for president? No, because he acts on impulse. He’s like George W. Bush in that way. They’re impulse people who act first and think later. You want someone who is in control of the United States to think more. Sharpton should not be a politician or a private citizen. He should remain the public’s conscience.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape? I agree with him when he says there’s something fishy about the tape. Why was it played out of context?
What do you think of Al Sharpton? He’s a grandiose voice who fights for two things: himself and his people. The fact that he gets coverage on TV suggests that he’s effective in ways that are important in this country. I don’t know if he picks the best issues to fight for; Michael Jackson’s contract might not have been the best issue.
Would you vote for him for president? Yes, before I’d vote for George W. Bush. Sharpton wouldn’t be the first self-aggrandizing politician to live in the White House.
What’s your opinion of the FBI tape? I think it was played out of context and it’s wrong. I have no problem with him being mad about it. I’ve seen a lot of white Americans who are as self-aggrandizing as Al Sharpton is, and they’re never demonized in the way that black leaders are. Blacks are held to much higher standards.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 30, 2002