Sharpton, speaking before a crowd at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem on Saturday, praised Johnson and encouraged him to embrace a diverse coalition of progressives to promote change.
“We need an intersectional coalition on every section of this society that is impacted – blacks, Latinos, gays, Asians,” Sharpton said. “This can be the beginning of bringing the sections together. I don’t have to give up my blackness. They don’t have to give up their heritage as Latinos, their identity in the gay community… Be who you are, but stand up for the whole so we can go home with dignity. That’s what this represents.”
Sharpton admitted he was initially disappointed that there would not be a black speaker, but noted that he had history with Johnson.
“Corey Johnson used to run around gay bars in Greenwich Village shouting, ‘Sharpton for President!’” he joked.
Race played a role in the recent battle to replace Melissa Mark-Viverito as the second most powerful politician in the city, as five of the eight candidates in the speaker race were black or Hispanic.