E. Reginald Pope, Nassau president for National Action Network, dies at 63
E. Reginald Pope, Nassau County president for Al Sharpton's National Action Network, who advocated on behalf of Long Island’s minority communities regarding civil rights and social justice issues, died on Nov. 12. He was 63.
Pope died from congestive heart failure, his family said, after being hospitalized for about six months.
“My father was an avid reader, who loved to stay informed on a wide variety of topics. He was a conversationalist and would have a discussion on any and everything,” said Ernest Pope, 38. “He had a way with people. He liked sharing and exchanging ideas, and he liked participating in various endeavors that helped promote the betterment of his community.”
Pope, of Freeport, stood at the forefront of several causes on Long Island and used his position to fight for equality. His activism helped secure additional funding for the Hempstead schools in 2015, as the district saw an influx of migrant children that year. He also called on the developers overseeing the renovations of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to hire workers of color, according to his family.
Ernest Pope of Roosevelt said his father grew up in Freeport and graduated from Freeport High School in the late 1970s, where he also played varsity football. He said his father received an associate degree from Nassau Community College and was pursuing a bachelor's degree at SUNY Empire State College before his passing.
In his youth, Ernest Pope said, his father was incarcerated for two years and upon his release he noticed the lack of resources for those looking to reintegrate back into society. Pope would go on to create an organization, Disabled Educational Assistance and Reentry Program, in 2009 that helped provide resources to those transitioning back into regular life after serving time in prison.
Pope, who had a real estate consulting company, served as the local director of Education for a Better America in Hempstead and was president of Minority Students in Action at SUNY Empire State College at SUNY Old Westbury.
Pope used his platform to encourage minorities to vote to have adequate representation in their communities, Ernest Pope said.
Derek Perkinson, the crisis and New York State field director for the National Action Network, said he meet Pope at a National Action Network convention in 2018. He said Pope was the kind of leader that shouldered the burdens of his community and always advocated for the betterment of youth.
"Reggie was a great leader, a great friend and he was very insightful and intelligent," Perkinson said. "He knew the issues in his community and always jumped right on it."
Perkinson said his colleague advocated for numerous things including bringing vocational training centers and bowling alleys for the Freeport and Roosevelt areas. He fought to expand the Hempstead Public Library and promoted education.
“It was a passion to want to do good for his community,” Perkinson said. “He had the spirit of activist.”
Ujima Jame, vice president of the Nassau County chapter of the National Action Network, said he collaborated with Pope on a variety of issues since the 1970s.
“He didn’t just become a part of the nonprofit organization, but he obtained the expertise it required to run a nonprofit organization," said Jame, 69, of Freeport.
A wake was held Dec. 1 at the Carl C. Burnett Funeral Home in Hempstead. His funeral was the next day at Judea United Baptist Church in Hempstead, followed by his burial at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.
In addition to his son Ernest, Pope is survived by his wife, Sharon; sons Miguel Knox and Erik Jackson; a daughter, Sharnada Griffin; and two granddaughters.