The art of Kevin Blythe Sampson

THE ART OF
KEVIN BLYTHE SAMPSON

8/24/11

Sharpton: No conflict being civil rights leader and TV host


Sharpton: No conflict being civil rights leader and TV host
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Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network, leaves after a meeting with President Barack Obama on immigration at the White House April 19, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Rev. Al Sharpton's reach just got bigger.

The civil rights activist and leader is now officially an MSNBC host, the network announced Tuesday. Sharpton will host PoliticsNation daily at 6 p.m. beginning next week.

Sharpton, who also hosts a daily radio show, sat down exclusively with theGrio's Todd Johnson to discuss his new gig.

WATCH theGRIO'S TODD JOHNSON INTERVIEW REV. AL SHARPTON HERE:

Sharpton told Johnson the civil rights 'battlefield' has changed and leaders need to follow suit.

"We're still at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the battlefield now is in the studios of talk radio and talk television," he said. "You can't go to the Jordan River with a Red Sea strategy. We're in the age of where Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and them have influence..."

Sharpton also becomes the only African-American host of an evening cable news program.

"I feel that my responsibility is that I should be challenging other stations to do what MSNBC did," he said. "And that is...step up and don't make [my hiring] the only one."

Sharpton said the platform MSNBC offers helped convince him to make a commitment to becoming a host. He said it his responsibility as an advocate and activist to take his message to as many people as possible - whether they agree with him or not.

"If the civil rights movement is going to be serious, it's going to have to engage twenty-first century media... if it's going to impact the conversation," he said. "Otherwise, we're going to let [our] adversaries dominate."