NORTH LAWNDALE — The Rev. Al Sharpton, who is commuting to Chicago once a week to shine a spotlight on the city's violence, is back Thursday with a packed schedule that includes radio, TV and Isiah Thomas.
Thomas, the Chicago-born NBA Hall of Famer, will get an award Thursday from Sharpton for his work mentoring kids and trying to stop violence. Thomas has been active in an anti-violence basketball tournament at the Auburn Gresham parish of St. Sabina, headed by the Rev. Michael Pfleger.
Rachel Noerdlinger, a spokeswoman for Sharpton, said the minister will "start his day in Chicago by speaking to students at Frazier International Magnet School [in North Lawndale] about violence."
He'll then be part of the ceremony to honor Thomas before broadcasting his TV and radio shows from Chicago.
Last month, Sharpton temporarily moved into an apartment in the West Side's Austin neighborhood. He said he plans to commute to Chicago at least once a week to highlight the growing problem of gun violence in America.
Sharpton's national radio show airs from noon-3 p.m. weekdays in Chicago on WVON-AM 1690 and is repeated from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. His TV show, "Politics Nation," airs on MSNBC from 6-7 p.m. weekdays.
When the 59-year-old Baptist minister from New York arrives Thursday, the Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church in Austin, said he would be accompanying Sharpton around town.
"I plan on hanging out with Rev. Sharpton for a few events," Acree said. "Hopefully he will get a chance to meet with some community activists to discuss how they could all work together on the issue of gun violence."
Some community activists have said they don't see the point of Sharpton's visits if he isn't bringing help with him.
"Why is he here if he did not bring resources?" said Harold Davis, an entrepreneur and community activist on the South Side. "He said he is coming to Chicago to put a spotlight on gun violence, but that spotlight already existed in Chicago."
The Rev. Anthony Williams, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in south suburban Robbins, said Sharpton is wasting his time in Chicago.
"I have nothing personal against Rev. Sharpton, but brother Sharpton coming to Chicago is not going to change anything," said Williams.