‘Rejected Stone’ helpful, easy read


Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.

The directions didn't make any sense.

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“The Rejected Stone” by Rev. Al Sharpton, c. 2013, Cash Money Content, $22, 272 pages. (Special to the Guardian)

They came with diagrams, but that didn't help. Online information was no better, you were making a mess of things, and about ready to scream. You needed clarification. You needed simple answers. You wanted someone to show you what to do.

You needed a leader. So why can't it be you? In the book, "The Rejected Stone" by the Rev. Al Sharpton, you see how it could happen.

Every once in awhile — especially when he's somewhere unexpected — the Rev. Al Sharpton looks around, surprised and pleased. He's been working for social justice and civil rights since he was 9 years old.

He admits that he's come a long way since his Tawana Brawley days. He's lost weight and gained insight, changed his outlook and his mind on issues. He's become a leader because the black community needs more of those.

Great leaders, he says, don't become leaders by accident. They know where they're going and they know how they're going to get there. They don't let their past deter them; they don't blame their childhood or neighborhood for their shortcomings.

Leaders are true to themselves, but they understand that they must be "different, better, more" than those around them. They know their own strengths and don't pretend to be something they‘re not. They've defined themselves, they ask for what they need, and they aren't afraid to "be big."

Successful leaders, he says, are all-encompassing. If you are against injustice, then you must be against all injustice. It's "hypocrisy" to pick and choose.

To be a leader, you must focus and commit to a cause. You must understand that religion isn't something you merely preach, it's what you practice. And, to be a leader, you must know when it's time to quit.

From his roots in Brooklyn to his current activism, Sharpton weaves his own experiences in with advice on becoming a leader, reaching for one's "blessings," and being an agent for justice. Readers may be pleasantly surprised to see humility here, too.

I liked that; I liked the lighter, no-nonsense tone of this helpful, easy-to-read book, and I think if you know someone with potential — teen or adult — it's what they need: "The Rejected Stone" could be a push in the right direction.

Terri Schlichenmeyer lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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