The Rejected Stone
Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership
by Reverend Al Sharpton
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Book Review by Kam Williams
“As you read through the following pages and get a sense of my journey and the lessons I’ve learned, I believe you will come to understand why I’ve not been unsettled or slowed down by the attempts over the years to paint me with a broad brush as some kind of troublemaker or self-interested hustler. While those caricatures might have become media shorthand, I was not about to let the world define me…
The America I faced in the 1980s wearing the jogging suit was not the same place as the America I speak to now, yet I still find myself leading marches to protest outrages like the shooting death of Trayvon Martin or the widespread attempts to roll back voting rights. I moved with the times, updated my style and approach so that I never became irrelevant.
-- Excerpted from Chapter One (page 7)
In Chapter 21, Verse 42 of the Book of Matthew, Jesus observed that “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Now, Reverend Al Sharpton paraphrases that parable for the title and theme of “The Rejected Stone,” an enlightening autobiography/how-to tome in which the longtime civil rights leader retraces his path from fiery street activist to international icon.
Besides reflecting on the highpoints of his controversial career, the outspoken author has 23 lessons to offer ambitious individuals interested in following in his footsteps. He elaborates upon those priceless pearls of wisdom individually in chapters all their own entitled, “Learning from Flawed Leaders,” “Never Rest on Your Laurels,” “Practice What You Preach,” and “Don’t Be Afraid to Be Big,” to name a few.
As interesting as Rev’s sage advice, however, are his personal anecdotes. For he’s ostensibly rubbed shoulders with folks from every station in life. And like a black Forest Gump, the peripatetic Sharpton has not only managed to land at the center of many an historic moment, but he even has a knack for summarizing the event in “Life is like a box of chocolates” fashion.
For example, he talks about having to pinch himself while attending President Obama’s inauguration earlier this year, when he realized that he was sitting up on the same platform with Congress, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court and luminaries like Jay-Z and Beyonce’. Not bad for a poor kid from Brooklyn whose father abandoned the family when Al was just 9.