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, the President and Senior Lecturer at Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. He also serves as the chair of the NAACP's Political Action Committee.

Don't you come talking to me about Jesus, unless you're standing with the poor.
It's better to die having fought for justice than to live and stay on the sidelines and to watch injustice have it's way without a challenge.
If we don't address this issue of poverty... we will never energize the 100 million Americans who stayed home in 2016. If you mobilize 2 to 10% of the poor around an agenda, you can fundamentally shift every election in this country.


  • 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)
  • Republicans have racialized poverty, and Democrats have run from poverty. And we’re forcing them to deal with the reality. We are very political, but we’re not partisan... There is not some separation between Jesus and justice; to be Christian is to be concerned with what’s going on in the world... All the victories we enjoy today—voting rights, Social Security, minimum wage—100 years ago were seen as virtually impossible...Everything we won, people had to start winning in the midst of opposition that looked like it was overwhelming. I believe that’s the moment we’re in right now.

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

The Real Epidemic is Poverty (March 30, 2020), The Progressive
  • 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-eraWelfare 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

  • For 27 years, the Rev. William J. Barber II has been the pastor at a church in the small city of Goldsboro, N.C... His work as an activist takes him to the state capital often enough that he’s well known there... Barber is ever in motion, and he’s still picking up momentum. He’s hardly stopped since he attracted national attention as the leader of the Moral Mondays protests held at the North Carolina capitol in Raleigh beginning in 2013.
    Any resemblance to the work of Martin Luther King Jr. is intentional: King launched his own Poor People’s Campaign less than a year before he was assassinated in April 1968. It was also in 1968 that Barber—who was born just days after the 1963 March on Washington—moved with his family from Indiana to North Carolina. His father, a teacher and preacher, had gotten a call from a black principal asking him to return to his home state to help with the cause of integration. The young boy found himself on the front lines of that fight. In the process Barber learned an early lesson: “There is not some separation between Jesus and justice; to be Christian is to be concerned with what’s going on in the world."
    And so, at his church in Goldsboro, politicians are welcome to worship and stay for a conversation, and many do. But they’re not allowed to preach. Neither Barber nor his organizations endorse candidates, though they do endorse issues.

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