Media-savvy black activist Reverend Al Sharpton has jumped his latest bandwagon – the alleged exclusion of minority ad agencies and media from US government business. The Rev is now trying to enlist two of New York's highest political profiles to his cause - the Democrat senators, Hilary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer.

Writing last week to both senators, Sharpton charges that government departments and their ad agencies have failed to comply with a Clinton administration executive order signed in October 2000. This is intended boost the usage of minority media and minority agencies for government advertising.

Railed the Rev: “Over a year has passed [since the order was signed]. Still nothing has changed. In the face of September 11, it is most important that we move to protect and ensure for future generations of Black Americans their fair share of voice. We are not merely talking about media bias or industrywide discrimination. We are talking about Madison Avenue, and for that matter the Democratic National Committee, marginalizing Black citizens of New York."

Sharpton, never short on headline-grabbing rhetoric, then questioned whether Madison Avenue had “turned New York into the media Johannesburg of America ... Harlem into the media Sowento of New York?

“Our concern,” he continued, “is that we have not seen tangible enforcement of the order and we are asking them [Rodham Clinton and Schumer] to look into this and to have a public hearing. It is one thing to deal with bias on Madison Avenue. It is another to defy a presidential order.”

Urging that Congress probe whether ad agencies and the federal government are complying with the mandate, Sharpton intends to launch his crusade at a Washington press conference on a yet-to-be-decided date later this month.

John Wolfe, senior vice president of the Association of American Advertising Agencies, said the Four A’s would be willing to work with Sharpton although this particular issue appeared to be one for the federal government. Meantime, Sharpton’s target-advocates, Senators Rodham Clinton and Schumer, were unavailable for comment last week.

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