He was an ordained minister at the age of 10.
He ran for the Senate in New York four times, for mayor of New York City and for President on the Democrat ticket, but has yet to win an election—or even make a good showing.
One of the few things that gave me comfort where Sharpton is concerned: there's no Al Sharpton, Jr. (As far as I know.)
But then I saw the cover story picture in the recent Phoenix New Times and gasped.
There he was: a miniature Al. [Kid Sharpton, by Jimmy Magahern, February 3, 2003]
His name is Jarrett Maupin II. The resemblance is uncanny, but he is not a blood relation. He is Sharpton's new protégé.
It began with a protest rally at Saguaro High School.
One student, who happened to be black, was asked to turn his hat around.
He refused and began to argue with school security and administrators. When threatened with everything from detention to expulsion, he accused the staff of racism. He was being singled out.
The student was suspended and arrested for trespassing, which suggests that he refused to leave campus after being suspended. (School officials are not allowed to comment.)
Maupin is President of the Phoenix chapter of National Action Network, Sharpton's organization, while attending an elite private school, St. Mary's High. He organized a protest rally in front of Saguaro High School.
The school district caved.
The Saguaro student's punishment was reduced—from three days suspension to one.
The squeaky wheel may get the grease. But that doesn't mean a wrong has been made right. More often than not, it just stops the noise.
17 year-old Jarrett Maupin is emulating his idol, Al Sharpton, and even refers to himself as "mini-me." Maupin became an ordained minister at 14 and is now seeking a city council seat in next year's election.
It would be kind of sweet, actually…if it were not so terrifying.
So what does America's future hold in the way of young political minds?
I found a lot of truth in this—but with Maupin as the perpetrator, not the victim.
The circumstances surrounding his sudden departure seem to be a matter of debate. In his junior year, Maupin claims he was attending a school dance when a janitor approached him and accosted him with racial epithets.
He transferred to St. Mary's—bringing several other black students with him.
Two of them were star basketball players. They now wished to compete against Brophy for St.Mary's.
But the school district has a no-compete policy. Student athletes are prohibited from joining more than one school team in a 12-month period.
The students were told they could not compete for St.Mary's until the following year.
But Maupin had a trick up his sleeve.
According to the New Times' Magahern:
"Maupin went to bat for the two students and won them a hardship waiver granting them the opportunity to try out for St. Mary's team based on the 'extenuating circumstances' that they had transferred not by choice, but because of a pattern of racial harassment at Brophy.
According to Magahern, St. Mary's is thrilled with their new students.
"Of course, the school—Brophy's archrival since the late 1950s—was also thrilled by the addition of the two star athletes Maupin was able to win for its basketball team. In its first game against Brophy with the addition of transferees Whyte and Rodney Brown, St. Mary's was able to roundly defeat the players' former school."
But the "pattern of racial harassment" at Brophy Preparatory could not have been too detrimental—because one the students transferred back there.
Brophy is a privately-funded prep school. Unlike parochial St. Mary's which is funded by the diocese, Brophy probably relies on alumni support through athletic booster clubs for much of its funding.
So this transfer of students probably cost Brophy in more ways than one.
Given the nature of rivalry among private schools, why St. Mary's would participate in this under-handed scheme is not the question. The question is: how did they pull it off?
Back to Jarrett Maupin Jr.
The truth, revealed by a flood of blog entries (hurray for the internet!) and by letters to the New Times editor by Brophy alum: Maupin was a sub-standard student with an unacceptable attendance record and a flair for the dramatic.
One student recalls a classroom incident where Maupin suggested that pianos were racist because the white keys were larger than the black.
In another case, Maupin suggested chalkboards were an example of racism because they were called blackboards even though they were green.
According to a Brophy alum, a party not bound by privacy laws, Maupin did not choose to transfer to St. Mary's; he was thrown out for his poor academic performance.
But he delivered the basketball players necessary for a St. Mary's victory.
What does St. Mary's give him in exchange? Anything he wants. Including, but not limited to:
The New Times' Magahern followed Jarrett and his family to various events, including an MLK celebration. At this rally, Maupin's sister was approached their father with a friend of hers in tow—a white girl whom Maupin's father suspected had her sights set on young Jarrett.
Jarrett Maupin Sr.'s comment: "She was at a little party we had and was tugging at Jarrett's shirttail, trying to get him to come with her…Jarrett just dug his feet in the ground. He's too smart for that."
Of course, this may not be ant-white racism—just politics. Maupin Sr. added "people still have a problem with the black man and the white woman."
The New Times delicately concurs that a controversial relationship could hurt Maupin's political career.
Or maybe this family has made a business out of fighting "racism"—only to promote it within their own home.
Maupin is now seeking a seat on the Phoenix City Council—he turns 18, the age of eligibility, just five months before the election.
The race racket—there's a new generation coming up!
Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.