Appealing for justice

Sharpton calls on DeSantis to
reverse his stance on race-related policies

Rev. Al Sharpton takes question from the media during a press conference Sunday afternoon at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
Rev. RB Holmes continued his call on Gov. Ron DeSantis to change his stance on Black history and other policies.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
A huge crowd turned out to head Rev. Al Sharpton preach Sunday at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
A strong support base showed up for a thank-you reception on Sunday afternoon.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

From the pulpit to the front porch, Rev. Al Sharpton used the platform at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to call on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to reverse his stance on Black history and a lengthy list of other issues.

Sharpton, renown for his civil rights activism, was in town last Sunday as guest preacher at Bethel. He came to help celebrate Rev. RB Holmes’ 47th anniversary as a pastor, the last 37 at Bethel. The day was also part of the ongoing celebration of the church’s 153 years of existence.

Ironically, the church is the same place where several other civil rights icons came to denounce injustices. Sharpton was just as impactful as many of the greats before him as he used his sermon titled “Don’t fear the flames,” to get his message across.

A huge congregation applauded and vocally expressed its appreciation for the issues that Sharpton addressed. In the audience were several elected officials and community leaders.

During a press conference that followed his sermon, Sharpton took time to explain why he accepted Holmes’ invitation to come speak. 


Gloria Holmes joined her husband, Rev. RB Holmes at the head table.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
City and county leaders were among the attendees.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

He came, Sharpton said, to “challenge the dangerous and deadly policies of this present DeSantis administration.”

That much was clear when Sharpton was on the pulpit. Before getting into his sermon in which he used the biblical story of defiance by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to the governance of Nebuchadnezzar, Sharpton called out DeSantis for supporting Israel in its war against Hamas. DeSantis has financed the return of hundreds of Americans from the war zone and he has sent supplies to Israel.

The loss of civilian lives makes the war unjust, Sharpton said. “Wrong is wrong,” he said, while question the governor’s stance to make a point about his threat to Blacks.

“If DeSantis is supporting Israel, then why is he doing the exact opposite to Black folks, gay folks and other folk’s right here in Florida,” Sharpton asked. “Talk from one side of your mouth, Mr. Governor. Either you respect history or you don’t respect history.”

He later added that “No governor has been more arrogant and insensitive on the issues of race than your governor, Ron DeSantis.”

There was hardly any law that a Republicans supermajority Legislature approved over the last two years that Sharpton didn’t address. The list include abortion, transgender people, a ban on classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

 Then, there is the governor’s ban on colleges using state or federal money to fund diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and his move to  dissolve Disney’s self-governing district and appointing a board to govern the property. 

DeSantis, Sharpton said, is the “poster boy of 21st century bigotry.”

“Stop being an impersonator of Donald Trump,” said Sharpton, who is president of the National Action Network. “I’ve seen impersonators before. People don’t like impersonators, governor DeSantis. You at best are an opening act until the main star comes out. Playing little Don aint goin’ get it.”

Sharpton was also in town just seven month ago to lead a march on the Capitol when the Legislature was pushing through many of the bills that DeSantis signed into law. Several organizations from around the state showed up for the rally.

Holmes, who is also president of the local chapter of the National Action Network, was at the forefront of that march. He and Sharpton vowed to continue calling out the governor until change happen.

“This is not a sprint,” Holmes said Sunday. “This is a marathon. We are going to continue to call out this governor and other wrong governors across this country that want to be president with a mean-spirited platform.”

Holmes said he finds it troubling that DeSantis is seeking the Republic nomination to run for president in 2024.

“We don’t want the United State to look like Florida,” Holmes said. “We have a governor that refuses to strike out toxic language that says enslaved Black benefitted from slavery. Those words are very hateful and hurtful. It’s unfortunate that you can run for president in the 21st century and dismantle diversity, equity and inclusion. That is still troubling.”

Sharpton took time to issue a reminder that the ballot box is where Blacks can make the biggest changes. The election of Barak Obama twice as president and having a Black woman vice president are good examples, he said.

“Don’t underestimate us,” Sharpton said. “Sometimes when it looks like we are losing the fight we pull it out in the late rounds. We are going to pull it out this time.”

Thank-you honoree list

A cross-section of individuals were honored by Rev. RB Holmes as a thank-you for their leadership in the community. The honorees were as follow:

Tallahassee Chapter of the NAACP — Mutaqee Akbar, President; Marie Rattigan, Vice President. Sydney Aitcheson Represented the Collegiate NAACP Chapters

City Commissioners — Mayor John Dailey; Mayor Pro Tempore Dianne Williams-Cox, 

Curtis Richardson.

Leon County Commissioners — Nick Maddox, Chair; Carolyn D. Cummings, Vice-Chair; Bill Proctor.

Leon County Tax Collector — Doris Maloy

Tallahassee Urban League —  Curtis Taylor, President

Big Bend Chamber of Commerce — Sean Pittman, President

Capital City Chamber of Commerce —  Katrina Tuggerson, President

Tallahassee National Pan Hellenic Council — Kim Berry, President

Poor People’s Campaign — Patricia Brown, President

Live Communications, Inc. (The Capital Outlook and

Hallelujah 95.3 FM) – Taralisha Sanders, General Manager; Darius “Doc” Baker, Executive Producer; St. Clair Murraine, Editor


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