An excerpt from Rev. William Barber’s “The Economy Doesn’t Work for Most Americans,” an article published in The Guardian this week.
One hundred and forty million poor and low-income people in America are a $400 emergency away from not being able to pay their bills next month. That’s 43.5% of the population in the world’s richest nation. While Democrats have championed the middle class and Republicans have promoted tax cuts and corporate welfare, poor people have not heard their names in American public life for the past 40 years, even as the gap between the rich and the poor has grown to levels of inequality we haven’t seen since before the Great Depression.
While both parties work to energize and mobilize their base, it is no accident that the single largest voting bloc in American politics is not those who voted Republican or Democrat in the last presidential election, but those who did not vote at all. Roughly 100 million Americans who were eligible to vote in 2016 didn’t cast a ballot. In 2018, while many celebrated a historic turnout for a midterm election, the numbers of those who didn’t participate were still higher.
Some highlights from Rev. William Barber’s 50-minute speech delivered on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Tennessee.
We do not celebrate martyrs. You join them.
MLK Jr. preached, but we make a dangerous mistake that his words were just soaring oratory. He preached civil disobedience and he preached a movement to challenge the demons of Jim Crow.
Not only in sanctuary…but he preached and acted in the streets of the nation.
If … it doesn’t lead to the liberation of the sick, poor and oppressed — then preaching is just words with no action,
People love dead prophets, but the question is, “Are you willing to follow Dr. King today?”
An excerpt from Rev. William Barber’s address presented before the 74th Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention on December 6, 2017.
We are here tonight, and 62 years ago would have been the fifth day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Today, when the prophetic actions of Rosa Parks like Shiphra and Puah in the Bible, chose to challenge the Pharaoh of Jim Crow. She sat down and birthed a movement on a stage that produced a prophet like Moses named Martin. She sparked a nonviolent revolution. Continue reading
From William Barber’s recent comments in a Democracy Now interview:
Before all of the latest news, Judge Kavanaugh, first of all, was being put forward after McConnell in the Senate held open a seat for over 420 days, in a way that we had not seen since the Civil War. They literally denied a president his right to nominate someone and for them to have a hearing. This was the same Judiciary Committee that denied two African-American women a hearing to be appointed to the federal court, the 1st District—Eastern District in North Carolina. So the process was bad from the beginning. Continue reading
A Memorial Day message from Rev. Dr. William J. Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Dear Movement family,
As the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival prepares for our third week of direct action, the nation pauses for Memorial Day weekend. Listening to many, including veterans in this movement, we chose to focus this week on our challenge to militarism and the war economy as well as the proliferation of gun violence in the US. We believe the greatest patriotism for moral agents is insisting that America become a more perfect union. Continue reading
This week Rev. William Barber was asked about the preacher who was asked to pray at the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The white Southern Baptist pastor has spoken out against Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, gay men and lesbians, Mormonism. Barber’s response:
That same group of people will go in and pray—P-R-A-Y—with President Trump and his other allies in the Congress and bless them, while Trump and his allies are preying—P-R-E-Y-I-N-G—on the poor and the broken and the hurting and the least among. It is sad. It is theological malpractice. It is costing people their lives. It is mean-spirited. And the world should stand up and speak out against it. And clergy and people of faith should speak out against it. And we should stop, in the media, assigning “Christian” and “evangelical” to persons like this. If we say it, we should say it in quotes, or we should call it what it is. It is not Christianity. It is not evangelicalism. It is not the religion of Jesus, who, in his first sermon, said to follow Jesus was to preach good news to the poor, to care for the brokenhearted, to provide liberty and healing to the bruised, and to declare the acceptable year of the lord. Nothing in that says endorse killing, endorse hatred, endorsed meanness.
The Poor People’s Campaign is growing, organizing for action in 2018. Sign up to join the coalition of 25,000+ here. A summary from Rev. William Barber:
A truly moral agenda must be anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative and deeply rooted and built within a fusion coalition. It would ask of all policy, is the policy Constitutionally consistent, morally defensible and economically sane. We call this moral analysis and moral articulation which leads to moral activism.