Sharpton lieutenant branches out to form new civil rights group
One of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s top lieutenants is leaving the National Action Network to strike out on his own.
The Rev. Kevin McCall, who has served as the National Action Network’s crisis director for the past five years, told the Brooklyn Eagle that he is leaving his post to form his own organization to focus on issues like housing and poverty.
The Crisis Action Center will operate out of a headquarters at 404 Rockaway Ave. in Brownsville, the neighborhood in which McCall was born and raised.
“I resigned from the National Action Network to be able to move in a different direction. We’re starting a vibrant, young leadership organization,” McCall, 32, told the Eagle on Tuesday.
The new center’s primary focus will be offering assistance to New Yorkers seeking housing, according to McCall. Under an innovative program, the center will provide free, one-month rental vouchers to single parents. In exchange, the recipients will be asked to volunteer at food pantries founded by McCall. The pantries are located at 407 Rockaway Ave. in Brownsville and 115-47 Sutphin Blvd. in South Jamaica.
McCall said he decided to emphasize housing as the center’s mission because it is a common problem in New York City. Affordable housing is becoming a rare commodity in New York City, he said.
“We spend a lot of time fighting racial discrimination and we will continue to do so. But the Number One issue at the National Action Network, the top thing that people came to us for help with, was housing,” he said.
Based in Harlem, the National Action Network is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991 by Sharpton, the nationally known civil rights leader.
McCall, who worked alongside Sharpton for five years, also has years of experience working in politics.
For nine years, he served as an aide to Charles Barron when Barron was a Democratic City Council member representing East New York. McCall moved steadily up the ladder and eventually became the deputy chief of staff in Barron’s office. Barron is currently a member of the New York State Assembly.
While the Crisis Action Center will focus mainly on housing, McCall said he still plans to fight against racial inequality and promote equality in education.
On Feb. 4, McCall led students, teachers and parents in a protest march from Middle School 35 to Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant for a rally during Black Lives Matter for Schools Week. The speakers at the Restoration Plaza rally called for the establishment of a black history curriculum in schools and demanded that the New York City Department of Education hire more teachers of color.
“We want to send the message that black lives matter and black students matter,” McCall said after the protest march.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of state Assemblymember Charles Barron.
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