National Action Network (NAN)

National Action Network (NAN)


* Views the United States as a nation rife with racism and discrimination
* “No justice, no peace” is the organization’s motto.
* Total revenues in 2009: [$3,062,078]
*  Total grants awarded in 2009 [$0]


The National Action Network (NAN) was established in New York City in 1991 by Al Sharpton (its founder and president) and a group of activists who were “committed to the principles of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience.” NAN was formally incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization on April 4, 1994 — a date chosen for its significance as the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 assassination; NAN’s founders saw themselves as “the keepers of the dream that Dr. King lived and died for.” The organization’s first national headquarters were situated in the heart of “Black Brooklyn”; in 1995 they were relocated permanently to Harlem. Today NAN consists of more than 40 chapters and thousands of members nationwide.

Viewing the United States as a nation rife with racism and discrimination against black people, NAN seeks to promote “the complete liberation of African-Americans from all injustices visited upon them as such so that they may receive ultimate recognition as free and equal members of the human community.” Toward that end, the organization is “vigilant and vigorous in fighting any discrimination based on the color of a person’s skin,” and works “for the passage of laws ensuring equal treatment … of all persons.” The motto of NAN’s “fight for social justice” is: “No justice, no peace.”

On its website, NAN cites some of the “efforts for justice” which it has led on behalf of numerous African Americans who, over the years, have made news headlines as victims of highly publicized white actions. The first name listed by NAN is that of Carmel Cato, “whose son Gavin was killed in a tragic car accident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.” In that 1991 incident, a Hasidic Jewish driver accidentally struck a 7-year-old black boy with his vehicle. Following the tragedy, NAN president Al Sharpton stirred racial tensions by publicly declaring that it was not merely a car accident that had killed the child, but rather the “social accident” of “apartheid”; by organizing angry, raucous demonstrations to protest the boy’s death; and by challenging local Jews — whom he derisively called “diamond merchants” — to “pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house” to settle the score. Soon thereafter, local black youths went on a three-day rampage of violent rioting.

NAN similarly notes that it fought to win justice for “James Byrd, a young black man from Jasper, Texas whose body was dragged by three white men behind a pick-up truck until his torso was ripped from the rest of his body” in 1998.

NAN’s major organizational activities are carried out under the rubric of three broad initiatives:

  • The Social Justice Initiative aims “to serve as a guide for pastors and congregations, and to bring to light the black churches’ responsibility in addressing the social issues that impact the lives of black men and women.”
  • The Decency Initiative “was created in order to reduce the dialogue of indecency that has become pervasive in our [black] community as a form of entertainment.” Most notably, NAN calls for “the removal of ‘nigga,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘ho’ from the lexicon of the music and entertainment industry.”
  • The Criminal Justice Initiative is founded on the premise that “injustices such as racial profiling have historically been a reality that we [blacks] still contend with today.” According to NAN, “police misconduct” ranks as one of the leading threats to members of the black community. To illustrate the magnitude of the problem, NAN focuses special attention on such high-profile black victims as “Abner Louima, who, in 1997, was tortured in the 70th Police Precinct in New York City”; “Amadou Diallo, who, in 1999, was killed by the New York City Police Street Crime Unit in a 40 shot barrage”; “[Tyisha] Miller, who was wrongfully gunned down by [the] LAPD” in 1998; and “Sean Bell, who was killed on his wedding day in a 50-shot attack by the New York City Police Department” in 2006.

Another, supplemental, NAN campaign is its Madison Avenue Initiative, which “has been in the forefront in the battle for economic justice and equal access in business and professional opportunities.” NAN’s Education campaign, founded on the premise that education is “the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” seeks to “clos[e] the achievement gap for minority and underprivileged students.” And the organization’s Voter Protection campaign “works to ensure that every vote in every community … is counted,” particularly “in swing states” where elections may be close.

NAN boasts of having “spearheaded” the “historic Redeem the Dream March against police brutality and racial profiling.” Held in Washington, DC in August 2000, this event commemorated the 37th anniversary of the famous “I Have A Dream” speech which Martin Luther King, Jr. had delivered in that same city. At the NAN event, which was co-sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, one of the the featured speakers was Malik Zulu Shabazz. During his talk, Shabazz called on black young people, including “gang members,” to unite against their “common enemy” – i.e., “white America” and its allegedly racist police departments. He also articulated a “black dream that when we see caskets rolling in the black community … we will see caskets and funerals in the community of our enemy as well.”

NAN endorsed the October 2, 2010 “March on Washington” organized by One Nation Working Together, an event whose purpose was to inspire “an intensive voter-mobilization program for Election Day 2010.” For a list of other notable endorsers, click here.

NAN’s Corporate Supporters

Numerous major corporations provide financial support for NAN. For example, the organization’s April 2015 national convention was sponsored by such notables as: AT&T, Viacom, Walmart, Perennial Strategy Group, Combs Enterprises, Comcast Corporation, McDonald’s, Ronald Perelman, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Forest City Ratner, Time Warner Cable, Barney’s, Coca-Cola, Essence Communications, Ford Division, Home Depot, Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the NBA, Verizon, Colgate Palmolive, Macy’s, NASCAR, OraSure Technologies Inc., Best Buy, Greentrack Inc., the IM Foundation, Con Edison, and Entergy.

NAN’s Response to Deadly Hamas Attack Against Israel

At daybreak on Saturday, October 7, 2023 — which was the major Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah — the Islamic terror group Hamas carried out a massive, multi-front, surprise attack against Israel, firing thousands of rockets from Gaza into the Jewish state, while dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the Israeli border in a number of locations by air, land and sea. “In an assault of startling breadth,” reported CBS News, “Hamas gunmen rolled into as many as 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip, including towns and other communities as far as 15 miles from the Gaza border. In some places they gunned down civilians and soldiers as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response.” Said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement: “Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting,] at war! This morning Hamas initiated a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens.” By Sunday, October 8, at least 600 Israelis had been killed and 1,800 wounded, making it the deadliest day Israel had seen in decades. Also by October 8, more than 300 Palestinians had died in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes against Gaza. Moreover, Hamas took hundreds of Israelis hostage, including dozens who were American citizens, and moved them to the Gaza Strip. The terrorists also paraded Israelis’ mutilated bodies in Gaza to cheering crowds of Palestinians.

On October 8, 2023 as well, the Wall Street Journal reported that officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with agents of Hamas and three other Iran-sponsored terrorist groups, had recently attended meetings in Beirut to plan the operation. Said the Journal: “Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’s Saturday surprise attack on Israel and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday, according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, another Iran-backed militant group.”

On October 10, 2023, a NAN representative attended a “Free Palestine” rally held at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, Michigan, where elected officials and community organizations from the Detroit area cheered for Hamas and chanted slogans advocating the destruction of Israel. (A full stream of the event can be viewed here.) Some notable lowlights from the rally:

  • Attendees chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” meaning that the entire State of Israel, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, will be destroyed.
  • They also chanted, “With our souls, with our blood, we’ll defend you, O Aqsa,” an Islamic chant calling for violence in order to “defend” the Jerusalem-based Al Aqsa Mosque from an alleged Israeli threat.
  • One speaker stated that Hamas “is not a terrorist organization.”
  • Another speaker claimed that white supremacists carry Israeli flags at their rallies.

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