The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network annual convention is moving ahead without much of a hitch, despite the recent wave of interest in his work as an FBI informant in the 1980s, as Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Holder all appeared on the opening day of the event. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
The Rev. Al Sharpton appears to enjoy the attention he gets from the press in general, but a flurry of recent stories about his past role helping the FBI investigate the mob about three decades ago does not seem nearly as welcome. It is not, however, keeping any high-profile friends of the civil rights leader at bay.
Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off the convention for Sharpton's civil rights group, the National Action Network. The pair posed for pictures with portraits presented to them at the start of the event.
"I am proud to stand with Rev. Sharpton because, to borrow a phrase from our youth, Rev., he is the real thing,'" de Blasio said.
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke as well, ribbing Sharpton for being a tough act to follow.
"I talked to Rev. Sharpton, and I said, 'Look, man, I got to go after you. And I know you're only doing an introduction, but tone it down, OK? Be fair to me, OK? I'm no Al Sharpton," Holder said.
The four-day event is meant to galvanize activists, advocates and civil rights leaders on issues like gun control, immigration reform and voting rights. The participation of politically powerful people has only helped raise Sharpton's personal profile even more.
Holder used his remarks to lash out at critics of the Obama administration in Washington He suggested that some of the pushback was racially motivated.
"You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee. Had nothing to do with me. Forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?" he said.
Perhaps Obama will weigh in on Holder's remarks later this week. The president is scheduled to speak at Sharpton's event on Friday.