MANA Movie Review: Loud Mouth

The mid to late 1980’s seems so very long ago but that is the time when a brash, radical, outspoken “kid” from Brooklyn burst on the scene with a voice and focus on social justice had not seen before. Yes, New York had been the home of Adam Clayton Powell and Malcolm X but they were adults who were almost expected to be on the front lines of conflict and controversy.

However, here was a young man who many thought would be more interested in sports, girls and partying leading hundreds of Black people to various locations around New York City to protest repeated acts of racism and prejudice in the most famous city of the world.

In the month of December the movie, “Loud Mouth”, the story of the Rev. Al Sharpton appeared in select theaters across New York City and the country. The movie is a two hour expose’ on the life of Rev. Al Sharpton, beginning in the mid 1970’s when he was still a teenager, but showing leadership qualities well beyond his years. The movie features Rev. Sharpton speaking about himself with news footage from area news outlets both local and national. Excerpts of him on local television shows like Donahue and ??? were placed on display for all to see.

However the story of Rev. Al Sharpton is not confined to his life a “street prophet” speaking truth to power at rallies and other gatherings. The movie takes the viewer on a journey that starts on the streets of Brooklyn, with protest victories in Howard Beach and Bensonhurst, but spreads out to various parts of the country where acts of violence against people of color takes place. In the movie you are able to witness the transformation and change in Rev. Sharpton as he makes a conscious decision to move his fight from the streets to inside the system. As such we watch him run for the United States Senate from the state of New York and then the presidency of the United States. And while his bid for public office was never realized it can not be questioned that his presence in the race forced the public to address issues that would have been otherwise ignored.

Currently Rev. Sharpton is best known as a MSNBC personality and president of the National Action Network, an organization he founded in the wake of being stabbed in the chest during a protest march in Bensonhurst, NY. That was also the time when he formally broke ties with attorneys Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, two prominent civil rights lawyers who would no longer allow Whites to attend rallies in the aftermath of the Sharpton stabbing.

Democratic presidential hopeful Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a news conference Monday, Feb. 10, 2003, at the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. Sharpton is the latest in the field of Democratic candidates to come to Iowa to generate support for a run for the White House. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

What is evident perhaps more so than anything else is the way that Rev. Sharpton has re-invented himself over the years. In the aftermath of the Tawana Brawley scandal it was assumed that his public career was over. However, he was able to bounce back from that setback and re-establish himself as a respected voice of the African American community. In the case of other leaders including King, Jesse Jackson, Marcus Garvey and others were known for a single identity. In the case of Rev. Al Sharpton he has gone from Loud Mouth to the voice of a generation. When the opportunity avails itself make sure you go to see the movie “Loud Mouth”

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