Rev. Al Sharpton, or "The Rev", as he is known among his fans, has been active in the Civil Rights Movement since the 1970s, but his popularity gained ground during the Amadou Diallo trial. In September 1999, Rev Sharpton led multi-ethnic rallies after the police slaying of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo.

In 1992, the Brooklyn native was the first black person to run for the U.S. Senate seat in New York.

Rev. Sharpton made his first appearance on the national stage in 1985 during the trial of Bernhard Goetz, who allegedly shot four unarmed black men on the New York subway. Goetz was indicted on a murder charge but acquitted on all but minor gun charges.

In the early 1970s Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement, an organization with the stated purpose of fighting drugs and raising money for ghetto youth. As the l6-year-old director of the organization, Sharpton made his first newspaper headlines in 1971 by urging black children in Harlem to participate in the African celebration of Kwanzaa instead of traditional Christmas events. The organization was later renamed the United African Movement, which Sharpton touted as a charitable anti-drug group with 30,000 members in 16 cities.

He was arrested for the first time in 1970 after a sit-in at New York City Hall to demand more summer jobs for teenagers.

Sharpton's name is not only known for leading hundreds of marches. He briefly managed the soul singer James Brown.