This Sunday, Oprah is sitting down with the renowned Al Sharpton to discuss how his work as a Civil Rights leader has changed over the years, why he made the decision to get healthy and his beginnings as a preacher. Stuff we probably already knew or wouldn’t be too surprised to learn about Al Sharpton. But in a surprising revelation, Sharpton talks about the moment that changed his life: his father leaving his family, taking Sharpton’s older, half sister with him and having a child with her. Yes, you read that correctly. And yes it was a complete a hot mess. Get the story from Sharpton himself in the transcript and video below.
On his father leaving his family
Sharpton: Well, I was already preaching in churches. We were living in Queens, Hollis, Queens, which was at that time like the suburbs.
Winfrey: Not just — not just preaching in churches but I love the story of you would — your mama made you a pulpit in the basement.
Winfrey: And you’d line up your sister’s dolls and preach to them.
Sharpton: I’d line the dolls up.
Winfrey: You were born to preach.
Sharpton: That was the best congregation I ever had. Not much of an offering but they never complained. So I had this idyllic suburban — I would have grown up to be the nice middle class black bourgeois league that I would attack later in life. That’s where I was.
Winfrey: That’s where you were headed.
Sharpton: That’s where I was headed.
Winfrey: Your father owned his own business.
Sharpton: Owned about 23 buildings in Brooklyn.
Sharpton: I wake up one morning, he’s gone. And not only is he gone, my oldest sister from my mother’s first marriage.
Winfrey: How old was she?
Sharpton: She was around 18.
Sharpton: Left with him and they had a child. And then they came and took my sister to live with them.
Watch the video of the exchange below.