The clergy founded Speak Out Say It Loud, at Mount Neboh Baptist Church as a coalition of black ministers determined to create a unified power base in the black community.
Pastor Johnnie Green, 51, said Sharpton has neglected black voters in New York in the pursuit to national fame. Green, along with several other pastors, has planned a large rally for October 24 with 1,500 expected attendees.
Rally organizers say Sharpton has spent too much time promoting his new book and his show on MSNBC. Sharpton responded to the critics, saying that he has not neglected his home base.
“I challenge anyone to match what we do every day, all day,” Sharpton said Monday.
“We need to attack the issues, not each other. If you want to be the big guy, be the big guy, be that. Don’t act like I’m not doing anything local. I am.”
Sharpton also says he continues to advocate for black New Yorkers on issues such as the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Speak Out Say It Loud says that it will not try to push Sharpton away, but instead encourage him to focus on national issues. The organization will then take on local problems.
“Of course Harlem needs younger leaders, but that has nothing to do with Al Sharpton,” said Harlem resident Rehsaan Harris, 39.
“We are not hating on Al,” said Patrick Young, another pastor involved with Speak Out.