Al Sharpton, on love and health care
Activist minister promotes compassion and service at annual gathering
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Sep 02, 2018 | 4545 views | 0 0 comments | 122 122 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLING THEM LIKE IT IS – Al Sharpton gave a lecture on healthcare for the poor at his recent appearance at the Metropolitan Family Healthcare Network’s facility in Jersey City
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Al Sharpton, civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and radio show host, took advantage of an opportunity to do more than just preach to the choir on Aug. 14 when he came to Jersey City to celebrate National Health Center Week.

The annual event hosted by Metropolitan Family Healthcare Network’s (MFHN) facility on Garfield Avenue in Jersey City drew hundreds of kids, parents and caregivers. The celebration also brought out prominent federal officials from the administration of President Donald Trump, allowing Sharpton the opportunity to preach to them about the benefits of healthcare for the poor.

While Sharpton sang the praises of the doctors and nurses who worked on the ground helping local people get healthy, he focused his wrath on the federal officials who sat near him on stage.

“Don’t tell me you love everybody and then distinguish between who ought to get some,” Sharpton said in his 10 minute speech. “I don’t care what religion you practice, if you don’t practice it on the ground, your religion is worthless. I don’t care what political party you’re a member of, if you don’t want to see people healthy wherever they are, then your party doesn’t mean anything.”

The federally funded MFHN has four facilities in Hudson County, two in Jersey City that serve the needy in Bayonne as well, and two more in Union City and West New York.

Using federal and state funding, MFHN makes health services available at affordable rates to needy families throughout Hudson County at a time when many people believe affordable healthcare is being threatened.

Over the last two years, a Republican-controlled congress has attempted to do away with the Affordable Care Act, and currently, this has resurfaced as an issue in the nomination process of Brett Kavanaugh, for the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I remember touring the country a few years ago to get people involved with the Affordable Healthcare Act,” Sharpton said. “But people got so involved with the politics they forget we were talking about getting healthcare for everybody. It was never about who was passing the bill, it was about who the bill was for… I will tell some of my Republican friends, ‘This is not about Obama; it is about your mama.’ ”

He said young kids to aging parents are facing hardships due to outrageous medical costs, and that places like MFHN provide that care.

“There is nothing more important in this world than giving people the help they need to preserve their lives so they can live a productive life,” Sharpton said. “Once you do that, then you can lecture them about right and wrong, good and bad, and politics. But first make them whole and give them the opportunity to have a life with good health. That’s what they do here at Metropolitan.”


“I don’t care what political party you’re a member of, if you don’t want to see people healthy wherever they are, then your party doesn’t mean anything.” – Al Sharpton


Filling the medical gap for the poor

The annual event held in Jersey City and at MFHN’s other facilities is designed to raise awareness about the center’s mission and accomplishments. MFHN President and CEO Joan Dublin said the event here in Jersey City is part of a celebration at 23 similar centers statewide

These centers, according to representatives from MFHN, develop strong partnerships among people, governments, and communities who work together to meet the unique and diverse health conditions of the community.

The centers offer high quality, cost effective and accessible primary care to all individuals regardless of their ability to pay, keeping communities healthy and productive, according to a resolution passed by the Hudson County Board of Freeholders at their August meeting.

The center has a sliding scale for medical charges based on income. These centers are an outgrowth of the anti-poverty programs of the 1960s, and MFHN, which started under the auspices of Jersey City Medical Center, has been operating on its own since 2006.

Each year, MFHN has expanded its mission, and seen the number of patient visits grow from 20,000 two or three years ago to about 56,000 at its facilities in 2017.

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey, who heads a prisoner reentry program in Hudson County, said these centers have provided his clients with critical services they needed.

“Healthcare and the ability to work is important,” McGreevey said.

“Healthcare is not a privilege, it is a right,” Sharpton said. “I wanted to be here because this is where the real work is being done. These programs on the ground, what is being done here, are the basic fabric of our country. This is where the gap is filled, by centers like this. You’re not going to get rich doing this. You’re not going to get recognition. But what you’re going to get is fulfillment, knowing that what you are doing is the most worthwhile work needed.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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