The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network, announced an expansion of NAN's senior staff this week. Two of four new staff members are community leaders in the Lowcountry: the Rev. Nelson Rivers III, pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston and his associate Trudy Grant, a Charity Church leader.

Rivers was named vice president of religious affairs and external relations. Grant will serve as manager of religious affairs and external relations. Two others appointed to NAN's staff are the Rev. Charles White, who will be director of field operations, and the Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, named Illinois state chairman.

Rivers and White are former national senior staff members of the NAACP; Grant managed national relationships between the NAACP and faith community; Livingston is a former national staff member of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Rivers said he was excited about working with Sharpton.

"There is so much to be done today in the fight for justice, and I am honored to work alongside the women and men of NAN in the great cause of civil rights," he said. "Having exceptional leaders like Ms. Grant and Rev. White join NAN's leadership team with me is a wonderful blessing that will immediately make a positive impact for NAN and the civil rights movement in America."

The appointments come as the organization gears up for its "freedom summer campaign," an effort to raise awareness about voting rights and suppression.

"We bring these seasoned and established leaders on board at a critical time when voting and economic rights for Black and Latino Americans are in real peril," Sharpton said in a statement. "We are taking a deliberate and important step toward arming NAN with the most talented leadership to build a movement of resistance."

All four hires will assume their posts on Thursday.

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