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Summary

Now a national best seller

Performed by Reverend Al Sharpton. Rise Up audio concludes with the original recording of Rev. Sharpton’s eulogy for George Floyd in Houston, Texas.

“This man is a gift from God to the world. This book is a gift from Al Sharpton to us. Let’s appreciate them both.” (Michael Eric Dyson)

Beginning with a foreword by Michael Eric Dyson and closing with Rev. Al Sharpton’s moving eulogy for George Floyd, Rise Up is a rousing call to action for our nation, drawing on lessons learned from Reverend Al Sharpton’s unique experience as a politician, television and radio host, and civil rights leader.

Rise Up offers timeless lessons for anyone who’s stood at the crossroads of their personal or political life, weighing their choices of how to proceed.

When the young Alfred Charles Sharpton told his mother he wanted to be a preacher, little did he know that his journey would also lead him to prominence as a politician, founder of the National Action Network, civil rights activist, and television and radio talk-show host. His enduring ability and willingness to take on the political power structure makes him the preeminent voice for the modern era, a time unprecedented in its challenges.

In Rise Up, Reverend Sharpton revisits the highlights of the Obama administration, the 2016 election and Trump’s subsequent hold on the GOP, and draws on his decades-long experience with other key players in politics and activism, including Shirley Chisholm, Hillary Clinton, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and more. The time has come to take a hard look at our collective failures and shortcomings and reclaim our core values in order to build a clear and just path forward for America. Our nation today stands at a crossroads - and change can’t wait.

“Full of history, honesty, and valuable suggestions, Rise Up should be a staple in every home, school and library as an essential primer on civil and political rights in America.” (Martin Luther King, III)

“If you want to learn how to use your voice to change a nation, you should study closely this man - and this book.” (Van Jones)

“My Bed-Stuy (do or die) brother has been at the forefront of our battles again and again. From way back in da way back to this present revolution the world is in now, Rev. has been about Black Lives Matter from the jump, also at a time when it was not the most popular or hip thing to be about. I look forward, standing next to him, to see, to witness this new energy, this new day that is about to be in these United States of America.” (Spike Lee)

Additional Content: NBC News Archives

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 Al Sharpton (P)2020 Harlequin Enterprises, Limited

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Disturbing, Encouraging, Liberating

From the outset, Al Sharpton’s ‘Rise Up’ is both brutally honest about the current state of the US, and brimming with hope. (Not empty, optimistic upbeatism, but the kind of hope that carries frightening responsibility). Sharpton’s rhetoric is almost musical - especially when you hear the audio version which is read by Sharpton himself. It is difficult to locate Sharpton’s on the scale of left-centrist-right. He is both critical of progressivism, but addresses with great competence many of the concerns prioritised by progressivists. His book progresses through various aspects of contemporary injustice, all of them in one way or another, linked to race. Covering ethics, faith, women’s rights, LBGTQ rights, immigration, the environment and activism. At every step of his argument he speaks from a wealth of personal experience, and brings a strong narrative dimension to underpin the practical plea he offers to his readers. Whilst claiming his book is not necessarily directed at academics, it is carefully argued and defensible in academic circles. Frequent use of Scripture, for instance, is hardly surprising for a preacher. But Sharpton’s use of scripture is insightful and radical. For instance, his appeal to Psalm 37, which includes the words, ‘I was young and now I am old, and have never seen the righteous forsaken.’ At Oxford, I was taught he uncomfortable truth that whoever penned those words must have enjoyed a sheltered and privileged life. However, Sharpton’s simple reading offers a simple but compelling alternative. It is only an individualist reading that requires this to be a statement of privilege. Those who die without ever witnessing the outcome of their struggle for justice, are still able to embody the genuine hope that their struggle for justice (a better translation than righteousness) does not die with them. If nothing else, I am grateful for this powerful alternative to the prevailing individualistic interpretation of Scripture. Like many, he offers weighty critique of Donald Trump. However, his analysis of Trump’s policy and persona arise from serious reflection on his own personal interactions with Trump himself and those close to him. In this light, it is a critique is unlike any I have read – and quite refreshing. He also manages (with lessons learnt from the widow of the great Martin Luther King) to engage in severe critique without resorting to insulting. Given the current climate in US media outlets, this places Sharpton in a respectful minority. More refreshingly, he does not criticise Trump as a ‘bad apple’ but is well aware of the problem with tree from which the apple fell. The conditions that produced a Trump are as much, if not more, of a concern than the phenomenon of Trump himself. By the time he moves to his discussion of the Me Too movement, he has already established for the reader, his own credentials and concerns as a preacher fighting for justice. Although race is the fundamental injustice that underpins much of his thinking – he does not (like the representatives of modern Identity Politics) restrict his concerns to one particular cause. He recognises and spells out the relation between all forms of inequality, and every malicious desire to gain power over another human being – whether personally or politically, individually or socially. The same insight and acumen is brought to his discussion of LGBTQ rights. Again, he speaks with personal insight – seeing up close the struggles faced by his own sister Joy, simply on account of her being Lesbian. The logic taught by his mother serves as a magnificent summary of Sharpton’s analytic lens: ‘She’s your sister!’ Shared humanity trumps all and leads to a theology and biblical interpretation of the issue that should be taught at all evangelical Bible colleges. The same logic (she’s your sister) carries over into his chapter on immigration: ‘every man’s your brother’. Jesus was an immigrant – he begins. Like Sharpton himself, Jesus ‘grew up in the mud’. The basis of his claims about immigration arise, again, from intelligent political reading of scripture – allowing it to shine a light on Trump’s xenophobic policies – especially his attempts to suppress votes among certain communities. The preacher examines the contemporary racisms applied to immigrant families, and describes the situation as ‘democracy on life support’. The unbelievable plight of Flint, Michigan informs his discussion of environmentalism. ‘What if terrorists were poisoning our water?’ he asks. When corporations do it, however, the media turns a blind eye. The overwhelming victims of such mass scale poisoning are black and brown citizens in economically deprived areas – those who suffer most are those are least responsible for the crisis. This is a reflection of national and international ecological injustice. The book concludes with a practical guide to activism. Sharpton is well placed to speak about activism. Echoing the great Rabbi Heschel, Sharpton urges that ‘to do nothing’, he says, ‘is worth than the injustice itself’. His practical guidelines take the reader well beyond the ‘boutique activism’ where you can gain reputation as a hero, but cost you little. This closing chapter is necessary reading for those who genuinely care enough to do something about the state of the world. The call to ‘Rise Up’, is not a dewy eyed, shallow-minded virtue-signalling public display. It is a practical, costly, gritty, long-term commitment that requires listening to the other, engaging communally, and ‘making your own bed’. Sharpton’s epilogue is a motivational call to Rise up. ‘Give me something to work with’ imagines Sharpton visiting your family to plan your funeral. It ends as it began, with appeal to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, itself an appeal to stand against the ‘spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms’ (Eph 6:12). Sharpton’s book is extremely powerful and stirring. It is also a surprise. Even when you know what is coming, Sharpton offers a biblical interpretation that is both authentic and radical, a personal narrative that is encouraging as well as challenging, and a degree of insight that leaves the world looking like a darker place than you thought – but with a greater reason for hope than might seem reasonable. That hope, however, if you are to experience it for yourself, requires you to ‘Rise Up’.

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  • Jessica S
  • 13-10-20

Inspired and inspiring

I loved this book. I feel like he gave excellent information and context. I honestly didn't know a lot about him before this. He's not perfect, but he is insightful.

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  • Laurie
  • 30-10-20

wow

This is powerful! I appreciated the authenticity brought forth by Rev Sharpton reading his work. I'm ashamed to admit that, as a privileged white child growing up in a small town in Texas, I thought he was waaaaay over the line. I know he's softened his message slightly. But I'd like to believe part of the reason I am impassioned by his book is because I now understand nothing will get done from walking the line. Thank you for the education, the enlightenment, and the ability to better speak to this important issue.

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  • gc pash
  • 23-10-20

Lest we forget...

A must-read. Lest we forget. why we must march on for civil rights and humanity.

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  • Dr. Mkh
  • 22-10-20

THANK YOU! 💓💓💓

Every Public & Private High School in the country must require all students to read this important book. This note is Respectfully & Appreciatively submitted for having the opportunity to read, think about and digest this meaningful document. We love you Reverend Al and thank you for all you do for all of us. May you and yours, all of us, continue to be healthy & safe. Sincerely, Dr. Michael K Hoffman

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