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President Obama Will Return to Harlem Wednesday

By Jeff Mays | April 1, 2011 5:53pm | Updated on April 2, 2011 9:25am
President Barack Obama greets Rev. Al Sharpton in Washington DC in December 2010.
President Barack Obama greets Rev. Al Sharpton in Washington DC in December 2010.
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By Jeff Mays

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM—Fresh from his $1.5 million fundraiser  in Harlem Tuesday, President Barack Obama will return to the neighborhood Wednesday to speak at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network's 20th anniversary.

Sharpton tweeted the news Friday afternoon.

"The highlight of our convention will be the President addressing an issue we are so passionate about: education as the civil rights issue of the 21st century," Sharpton spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger told DNAinfo.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Harlem Wednesday to catch a glimpse of Obama as he headlined a $30,800 per plate fundraiser at celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster Harlem restaurant on Lenox Avenue.

Afterward, Obama greeted more than 250 community leaders gathered at the Studio Museum in Harlem during a thank-you reception.

David Bositis, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that studies public policy issues affecting African Americans, said next week's visit has more significance than a fundraiser.

"Events that have larger meaning are not fundraisers. They are  speeches or speaking events or visits or things where he is connecting with people on a community type of level. In terms of fundraisers, they are by definition private," said Bositis.

The visit is coming from a promise Obama made when he was running for election in 2007.

"In 2007, when he addressed the convention, as all presidential candidates that year did, he promised regardless of the outcome of the election he would come back, and we are glad he has chosen our 20th anniversary and our central issue of education as the focus for his remarks," Noerdlinger.

Obama and Sharpton last hung out in Harlem in 2007. The pair dined at famed soul food restaurant Sylvia's.

Many see Obama's trips to Harlem as a way to shore up his support in the black community heading into the 2012 elections.

Obama mentor and Harvard professor Charles Ogletree once called Sharpton Obama's link to the "streets" and the "disadvantaged" in black America.