He preached his first sermon at the age of four, and soon became famous in Brooklyn as the "wonderboy preacher," even touring with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. He was licensed and ordained a Minister at age 10 by Bishop F.D. Washington in 1964. He graduated from Samuel J.
Tilden High School in Brooklyn and attended Brooklyn College but did not graduate.   In 1963, his parents separated. Sharpton recalls in a 2002 interview "My daddy walked out on us, and he married my half-sister, Tina. Tina was my mother's daughter from a previous marriage." His mother took a job as a maid, earning very little, and qualified for welfare; the family moved from their middle class home in Queens to the projects in Brownsville.
  Political activism Sharpton's first experiences in organizing people were in high school, where he protested against poor cafeteria food and the dress code. In 1969, he was appointed by Jesse Jackson as youth director of Operation Breadbasket, a group that focused on the promotion of new and better jobs for black Americans.  In the 1970s, after two years at Brooklyn College, Sharpton became a tour manager for James Brown, where he met his future wife, Kathy Jordan, a backup singer. Sharpton and Jordan married in 1983. In 1971, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement to fight drugs and raise money for impoverished youth. In 1991, Sharpton founded the National Action Network to increase voter education, services aiding the poor, supporting economically small community businesses, confronting racism and violation of civil and human rights. In 1999, Sharpton led a protest in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo, a Guinea immigrant.
There was an immense wave of protests after Diallo, who was unarmed at the time, was shot dead by police in the vestibule of his apartment building. Sharpton was in the forefront in claiming police brutality and racial profiling. Diallo's family was later awarded $3 million in a wrongful death suit filed against the city. In a similar case in 2003, Sharpton was also involved in protests in the death of another West African immigrant Ousmane Zongo. Zongo, who was also unarmed, was shot by a plain clothes policeman during a raid on a warehouse in Chelsea.
Sharpton met with the family and also provided some legal services. Zongo's family was also awarded $3 million in a wrongful death suit. He has also spoken out against cruelty to animals in a video recorded for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).  Sharpton is a supporter of the World Can't Wait organization.  Stance on Gay Rights Sharpton recently announced that he is a supporter of equal rights for gays and lesbians, including their right to marry. Despite earlier media portrayals of him as virulently anti-gay, he has now taken it upon himself to head a grassroots movement to eliminate homophobia within the Black Church.
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