By Jason Wojciechowski on September 30, 2005 at 2:05 AM
Al Sharpton showed up at a meeting earlier today to show his support for the teachers in their battle with the city for a contract (since it appears more and more that Bloomberg's earlier "imminent" talk was the usual political rhetoric). A choice quote: "I came (here) today to make it clear to this mayor and this chancellor that if we have to strike this year, the communities of color and the teachers will be together to get what is right in the city of New York." And another: "Let the teachers teach in freedom schools, in churches if it comes to that. This is no bluff." (The quotes come from an e-mail from the UFT and will likely show up in newspapers and such tomorrow.)
The question is how seriously the idea of "freedom schools" can be taken and, more importantly, whether Sharpton really does speak for the "communities of color." He certainly has considerable power within the African American community, which is a large part of the city (26.6% of the population, by 2000 census), but what about the huge number of Latinos? Asians? Everyone else? Does the average (say) Iranian family listen to Al Sharpton? Dominican? Korean?
I guess the idea is that Sharpton is hooked in with the leaders of those smaller communities, and that those leaders speak to the members of those communities more directly than he does, but that he still can claim their support. Just as with Bloomberg's intimations of a contract coming soon, though, these are just words until proven otherwise.