Say “Al Sharpton” in conservative circles, and the likely response is a recitation of his incendiary past, including Tawana Brawley, the Crown Heights Riot and Freddie’s Fashion Mart.
But people can and do change. And when people on the left change in a positive way, it’s good for us on the right to acknowledge it. So I’m going to say something that might not be well received by some fellow conservatives, but that I believe is true: Al Sharpton has become a more mellow, constrained and responsible person.
I first wrote about it six years ago, during the Trayvon Martin affair. While Joe Scarborough branded George Zimmerman a “murderer” before he had even been arrested, Sharpton was more careful with his language. On his MSNBC show today, interviewing MLK III on the eve of MLK Day, Sharpton acknowledged that in the past, his language had been wrong.
On his MSNBC show today, Sharpton spoke of having been lectured by Coretta Scott King, who told him: “you got to be careful with your words. You got to be careful what you say, even if it’s unintended.”
Speaking to MLK III, Sharpton then acknowledged: “that’s part of what your father did, was set a high moral tone while he engaged in confrontational battles. And I think it took time for people, even that came out of his movement like me, to understand. And something that we’re saying to this president: tone matters.”