updated 1/19/2004 7:52:16 PM ET 2004-01-20T00:52:16

Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton left the campaign trail to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, but he did not abandon politics, lashing out at Howard Dean and endorsing a local mayoral contender.

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After a morning appearance in South Carolina, Sharpton returned to New York City to speak at the annual National Action Network gathering that honors the slain civil rights leader.

Sharpton’s remarks quickly turned to Dean, whom he criticized in a recent Democratic debate for failing to appoint a black or Hispanic to his Cabinet during 12 years as governor of Vermont.

'Don't talk to me like I'm stupid'
“Dean’s the one who says he wants to teach us race, but he has no experience with us, never lived with us. How’s he going to teach us?” Sharpton told an animated crowd of several hundred supporters. “If he hadn’t have brought it up, I wouldn’t have asked him. But don’t talk to me like I’m stupid.”

Dean has said that with a handful of Cabinet slots and little turnover, he didn’t have many positions to fill, and he had trouble competing with better job recruiters such as IBM and the University of Vermont.

Sharpton also endorsed Charles Barron, a city councilman who announced plans earlier Monday to challenge Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, in 2005. Barron is the only Democrat to officially enter the race.

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