The Rev. Mr. Sharpton was to be in West Virginia today.
By JULIE A. WAGNER
VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Rev. Al Sharpton made a campaign stop here to gather support among black ministers for presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry.
The Rev. Mr. Sharpton, a presidential candidate in the Democratic primary, and hip-hop star Foxy Brown addressed a "Get Out The Vote" meeting of minority pastors Thursday afternoon at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 707 Arlington St., on the city's North Side.
About 40 ministers from Youngstown and Warren were among the 100 there. Mr. Sharpton and Brown will visit three or four cities a day until the Nov. 2 election.
"The first thing I urge is to not let those right-wing zealots take control of the [U.S.] Supreme Court," Mr. Sharpton said. With two to four justices likely to retire soon, whoever is elected president could affect the country for the next 50 to 100 years, he said.
"We barely saved affirmative action," he said, referring to a 5-4 Supreme Court vote in December 2000 in Grutter vs. Bollinger. The court approved the University of Michigan's law school weighing race as an admissions factor.
Will achievements be lost?
The civil-rights achievements of those such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evans could be lost, he said if a more conservative high court renders future decisions.
He also said the so-called Christian Right is trying to make one hot-button issue the center of the campaign while ignoring other issues. Christian organizations have criticized Kerry's position on abortion.
"The one to battle the Christian Right is the right Christian," Mr. Sharpton said. "Make Kerry president, and get Bush a cross and a church in Texas if he wants to be a preacher."
Mr. Sharpton criticized the president for the war in Iraq and his claims that Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi leader, had weapons of mass destruction.
"If we were not in danger, we should have stayed on the trail of Osama bin Laden," he said.
Mr. Sharpton said Kerry, whom he got to know during the primary, is a good man.
"I believe if he gets elected, he'll be fair," Mr. Sharpton said. "He's the best and only option."
He urged the ministers to talk about issues in services the next two Sundays.
Star gets involved
Brown related how she called Mr. Sharpton and said that though she had sold millions of records, she needed to do "something in life to help someone."
She cleared her calendar when Mr. Sharpton asked her to join his tour. Brown, 25, said she was once apathetic about voting, but now she talks to young people about it. She gave autographs to five children from the church's after-school program.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, who attended, said he thought it was important that Mr. Sharpton talked about looking at all the issues, instead of just one.
He said that in his 12 years of education in Catholic schools, his idea of Jesus Christ was someone proactive who helped those people who needed it, and Christ wasn't one to exclude people.
Mr. Sharpton visited Dayton in the morning and was due in Pittsburgh on Thursday evening. He will be in West Virginia today.