William Barber II
Barber (right) speaking at a Moral Mondays rally in 2013
|Born||August 30, 1963|
|Occupation||Protestant minister, activist, Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York|
William J. Barber II (born August 30, 1963) is a Protestant minister and political leader 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, the largest in the Southern United States and the second-largest in the country. Barber has served as pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in Goldsboro, North Carolina since 1993.
Barber was elected president of the NAACP's youth council at age 15, president of his high school's student body at 17, and student government president at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) at 19. Barber received his bachelor's degree in political science from NCCU, cum laude; a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University; and a doctorate from Drew University with a concentration in public policy and pastoral care.
Beginning in April 2013, Barber led regular "Moral Mondays" civil-rights protests in North Carolina's state capital, Raleigh. The Wall Street Journal credited Barber's NAACP chapter with forming a coalition in 2007 named Historic Thousands on Jones Street People's Assembly (HKonJ), composed of 93 North Carolina advocacy groups. "With this changing demographic, we had to operate in coalition," Barber was quoted as saying. Historian and professor Timothy Tyson named Barber, "the most important progressive political leader in this state in generations," saying that he "built a statewide interracial fusion political coalition that has not been seriously attempted since 1900." An article in the Michigan State Law Review, "Confronting Race: How a Confluence of Social Movements Convinced North Carolina to Go where the McCleskey Court Wouldn't" credits him with bringing together a statewide political coalition. He, "has become as well known [in North Carolina] as [Governor] Pat McCrory and Republican leaders of the House and Senate," according to a 2013 Huffington Post profile of him. He traveled with NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous to meet with Georgia prison officials.
In 2014, he founded Repairers of the Breach, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization "formed to educate and train religious and other leaders of faith who will pursue policies and organizational strategies for the good of the whole and to educate the public about connections between shared religious faith."
On May 30, 2017, Barber was arrested after refusing to leave the North Carolina State Legislative Building during a protest over Health Care legislation. The following month, a state magistrate banned Barber and the other protesters from entering the Legislative Building. Barber and his lawyers contend that the ban is unconstitutional, because the state constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble to communicate with their legislators.
In May 2017 Barber announced he would step down from the state NAACP presidency to lead "a new 'Poor People's Campaign'", named Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival in honour of the original 1968 campaign founded by Martin Luther King.
Barber was awarded the 2006 Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Esq. Award for legal activism, the highest award in the NAACP for legal redress for advocacy, he was the 2008 recipient of the Thalheimer Award for most programmatic NAACP State Conference, and in 2010 he won the National NAACP Kelly M. Alexander Humanitarian Award.
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue awarded him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2009—a North Carolina citizenship award presented to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state.
He is the author of a self-published book titled Preaching Through Unexpected Pain. His second book, Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation (ISBN 0827244940), was published in 2014. His third book, The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement (ISBN 0807083607), was published in 2016.
In 2017, Barber was awarded an honorary doctorate from Drew University, his alma mater, and also delivered the university's sesquicentennial address at commencement exercises. Barber was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Occidental College preceding his speech (which was also livestreamed) to students, alumni, and community members in Thorne Hall.
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