By John Murray 

    In the aftermath of the shooting last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, several public figures have been inspirational during our time of intolerable grief. Placing politics aside, if that’s even possible in America these days, President Barack Obama and Governor Dan Malloy have conducted themselves with raw passion, leadership, and strength. Both men led the country in public grieving, and were strong enough to openly weep in front of our eyes. Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police has been brilliant at delivering the facts with a mix of authoritative compassion. And surprisingly, perhaps even shocking to many white Americans, you can now add Reverend Al Sharpton to that list. 

   Sharpton spoke tonight at the Zion Baptist Church in Waterbury and delivered a message that should resonate across the country. He didn’t talk about race, he talked passionately about children being gunned down – our children. He spoke of the outrage and pain felt in every corner of American society by the Newtown massacre. Sharpton called for the ban on assault weapons, and for an intense American debate on mental health. If you were looking for a self-serving, race-baiter, he didn’t show up at Zion Baptist Church tonight. Instead, there was a meaningful dialogue that took place. Rev. Sharpton’s words were clear and clean and right on point. Now the question is – was anyone listening? In the next day the Observer will transcribe his complete remarks and share them online with a dozen images from a powerful night in Waterbury.