© 2022 Cincinnati Public Radio
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Rev. Al Sharpton addresses Arbery and Rittenhouse trials during visit to Cincinnati

Cory Sharber
Rev. Al Sharpton reminded Black executives not to forget those who made sacrifices in the past at the 38th Annual Convention of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals on Thursday.

Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the importance of civil rights for Black executives, as well as the murder and homicide trials of Ahmaud Arbery and Kyle Rittenhouse in Cincinnati Thursday.

The civil rights activist delivered the keynote address at the 38th Annual Convention of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP) at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown. The theme of this year's convention is "Walk In Your Power."

He reminded Black executives not to forget about those who made sacrifices in the past so that they can be in their position today. Sharpton told a story of one man telling him he didn't need civil rights to make it on his own merit. He then handed Sharpton his resume.

"You went to the right schools, you're a member of the right fraternities, you had the right references and you are even right that civil rights did not write your resume," Sharpton said. "But civil rights made somebody read your resume."

Sharpton flew to Cincinnati from Georgia to speak at the event. The day before, he attended Ahmaud Arbery's murder trial, which he called a "lynching in the 21st century."

This was the fourth day of testimony in the trial of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan Jr. The three men are accused of chasing and killing Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, saying they were attempting to make a citizen's arrest.

"And to sit in the courtroom with the mother and father, sitting behind the family and the three men that killed him reminded me no matter how much progress we made, we still have Blacks that can't jog through streets in Georgia without being killed," Sharpton said.

He also addressed the ongoing trial of 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who's charged with killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wis., last year. During his testimony, the judge called a recess after Rittenhouse began crying at the witness stand. Sharpton questioned the sincerity of Rittenhouse's tears and criticized the judge's handling of the trial.

"And then the judge, who's supposed to be impartial, with the cameras rolling attacks the prosecutor," Sharpton said. "The same judge that said that in the trial, you can't call the people that were killed victims, but you can call them rioters or looters when nobody proved they were rioters or looters."

NCBMP Conference returns following pandemic delay

This is the first conference since 2019. NCBMP Chairwoman Marlinda Henry said it was supposed to take place in Cincinnati last year. Despite the year off, she says up to 175 people will attend.

To go along with the theme's event, Henry says she hopes people continue "walking in their power."

Cory Sharber
Marlinda Henry is the NCBMP's Chairwoman. She was elected this year and has worked in the event planning industry for 20 years.

"People's lives have been uprooted, people have lost their jobs during this time, they've lost loved ones, and they just need that extra bit of hope so we designed our sessions, our breakout classes to make sure that they leave here knowing that they have that power within them," Henry said.

The NCBMP is a non-profit organization focusing on the training needs of African American meeting planners. The conference's final day will be Nov. 13.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.