William Barber II

civil rights leader from North Carolina

William Barber II (also Rev. William J. Barber II) (born August 30, 1963) is an American Protestant minister and political activist in North Carolina. He is a member of the national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the chair of its Legislative Political Action Committee. Since 2006, he has been president of the NAACP's North Carolina state chapter.

William Barber at Moral Mondays rally


  • When faith and church becomes merely a place for privatized religion and privatized salvation and privatized relationship with the divine, it is actually counter to Scripture. Jesus said that nations would be judged for how we treat the poor, the sick, the stranger, the immigrants and the least of these.
  • We forget that it was the religion of abolitionists that led them not to pray against slavery but to stand against slavery.
  • It was the Civil Rights Movement that said we don’t need to just pray for things to get better in America, we need to march in the street and challenge the injustices of society and declare that segregation was not only a political problem, but a moral problem.
  • And so anytime when we see millions of people without health care and silence too often by the church, when we see 62 million people without living wages and silence from too many of the churches, we see 140 million people living in poverty, and there not be an outcry from the church, then we actually enable greed by our apathy and absence from the public square.
  • Where we see churches who say that the moral issue is hate, disliking gay people, standing against a woman’s right to choose, standing up for guns and tax cuts for the wealthy and building a wall to block people from this country, not only are they wrong – because there are more than 2,000 Scriptures in the Bible that speak to how we should treat the poor, the stranger and the least of these...
  • The U.S. President's order to carry out a lethal drone strike violated the UN Charter's prohibition on the use of force. The assassination of General Qassim Suleimani represented an act of war against a country with whom the United States was not at war.
  • We will not be silent as our president publicly announces willingness to commit a minimum of 52 violations of international law and war crimes — attacking civilian and cultural centers, including churches, museums, mosques and libraries in Iran.
  • War is a crime against the poor civilians of Iran, Iraq, and the whole Middle East region, who pay for U.S. wars with the destruction of their lives, their health, their homes and their country’s environment. It’s a crime against the poor of the U.S. as well who pay with their tax dollars going to the Pentagon instead of to jobs, health care and a green new deal.
    • Letter Asking the United Nations to Hold Trump/U.S. Accountable for War Crimes (8 Jan 2020)

The Real Epidemic is Poverty (March 30, 2020)Edit

The Real Epidemic is Poverty (March 30, 2020), The Progressive
  • The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, yet millions of American families have had to set up crowdfunding sites to try to raise money for their loved ones’ medical bills. Millions more can buy unleaded gasoline for their car, but they can’t get unleaded water in their homes. Almost half of America’s workers—whether in Appalachia or Alabama, California or Carolina—work for less than a living wage. And as school buildings in poor communities crumble for lack of investment, America’s billionaires are paying a lower tax rate than the poorest half of households. This moral crisis is coming to a head as the coronavirus pandemic lays bare America’s deep injustices. While the virus itself does not discriminate, it is the poor and disenfranchised who will experience the most suffering and death. They’re the ones who are least likely to have health care or paid sick leave, and the most likely to lose work hours. And though children appear less vulnerable to the virus than adults, America’s nearly forty million poor and low-income children are at serious risk of losing access to food, shelter, education, and housing in the economic fallout from the pandemic. The underlying disease, in other words, is poverty, which was killing nearly 700 of us every day in the world’s wealthiest country, long before anyone had heard of COVID-19. The moral crisis of poverty amid vast wealth is inseparable from the injustice of systemic racism, ecological devastation, and our militarized war economy. It is only a minority rule sustained by voter suppression and gerrymandering that subverts the will of the people. To redeem the soul of America—and survive a pandemic—we must have a moral fusion movement that cuts across race, gender, class, and cultural divides.
  • The United States has always been a nation at odds with its professed aspirations of equality and justice for all—from the genocide of original inhabitants to slavery to military aggression abroad. But there have been periods in our history when courageous social movements have made significant advances. We must learn from those who’ve gone before us as we strive to build a movement that can tackle today’s injustices—and help all of us survive.
  • Decades after Depression-era reforms, Wall Street fought successfully to deregulate the financial system, paving the way for the 2008 financial crash that caused millions to lose their homes and livelihoods. And the ultra-rich and big corporations have also managed to dominate our campaign finance system, making it easier for them to buy off politicians who commit to rigging the rules against the poor and the environment, and to suppress voting rights, making it harder for the poor to fight back.
  • Our military budgets continue to rise, now grabbing more than fifty-three cents of every discretionary federal dollar to pay for wars abroad and pushing our ability to pay for health care for all, for a Green New Deal, for jobs and education, and infrastructure, further and further away. The wars that those military budgets fund continue to escalate. They don’t make us safer, and they’ve led to the deaths of thousands of poor people in Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, and beyond, as well as the displacement of millions of refugees, the destruction of water sources, and the contamination of the environments of whole countries. The only ones who benefit are the millionaire CEOs of military companies, who are getting richer every year on the more than $350 billion—half the military budget—that goes directly to their corporations. In the meantime 23,000 low-ranking troops earn so little that they and their families qualify for food stamps.
  • Key to these rollbacks: controlling the narrative about who is poor in America and the world. It is in the interest of the greedy and the powerful to perpetuate myths of deservedness—that they deserve their wealth and power because they are smarter and work harder, while the poor deserve to be poor because they are lazy and intellectually inferior. It’s also in their interest to perpetuate the myth that the poverty problem has largely been solved and so we needn’t worry about the rich getting richer—even while our real social safety net is full of gaping holes. This myth has been reinforced by our deeply flawed official measurements of poverty and economic hardship. The way the U.S. government counts who is poor and who is not, frankly, is a sixty-year-old mess that doesn’t tell us what we need to know. It’s an inflation-adjusted measure of the cost of a basket of food in 1955 relative to household income, adjusted for family size—and it’s still the way we measure poverty today.
  • But this measure doesn’t account for the costs of housing, child care, or health care, much less twenty-first-century needs like internet access or cell phone service. It doesn’t even track the impacts of anti- poverty programs like Medicaid or the earned income tax credit, obscuring the role they play in reducing poverty. In short, the official measure of poverty doesn’t begin to touch the depth and breadth of economic hardship in the world’s wealthiest nation, where 40 percent of us can’t afford a $400 emergency. In a report with the Institute for Policy Studies, the Poor People’s Campaign found that nearly 140 million Americans were poor or low-income—including more than a third of white people, 40 percent of Asian people, approximately 60 percent each of indigenous people and black people, and 64 percent of Latinx people. LGBTQ people are also disproportionately affected. Further, the very condition of being poor in the United States has been criminalized through a system of racial profiling, cash bail, the myth of the Reagan-era “Welfare Queen,” arrests for things such as laying one’s head on a park bench, passing out food to unsheltered people, and extraordinary fines and fees for misdemeanors such as failing to use a turn signal, and simply walking while black or trans.
  • We are a nation crying out for security, equity, and justice. We need racial equity. We need good jobs. We need quality public education. We need a strong social safety net. We need health care to be understood as a human right for all of us. We need security for people living with disabilities. We need to be a nation that opens our hearts and neighborhoods to immigrants. We need safe and healthy environments where our children can thrive instead of struggling to survive. With the coronavirus pandemic bringing our country’s equally urgent poverty crisis into stark relief, we cannot simply wait for change. It must come now. America is an imperfect nation, but we have made important advancements against interconnected injustices in the past. We can do it again, and we know how. Now is the time to fight for the heart and soul of this democracy.

Quotes about BarberEdit

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