Sharpton's supporters praise "his ability and willingness to defy the power structure that is seen as the cause of their suffering" and consider him "a man who is willing to tell it like it is". Former Mayor of New York City Ed Koch, a one-time foe, said that Sharpton deserves the respect he enjoys among Black Americans: "He is willing to go to jail for them, and he is there when they need him." President Barack Obama said that Sharpton is "the voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden". A 2013 Zogby Analytics poll found that one quarter of African Americans said that Sharpton speaks for them.
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