RALEIGH, N.C. — A longtime leader of the progressive movement in North Carolina and nationally, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber of the NAACP of North Carolina will step down as leader of the state’s chapter in order to focus on a revival of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967-8 Poor People’s Campaign. The New Poor People’s Campaign under Rev. Barber will renew “a national call for a moral revival.”
“This moment requires us to push into the national consciousness a deep moral analysis that is rooted in an agenda to combat systemic poverty and racism, war mongering, economic injustice, voter suppression, and other attacks on the most vulnerable,” stated Rev. Dr. Barber. “While I am stepping down as president, I will continue working to advance the moral movement here at home as well as support the leadership in our conference to move North Carolina forward together.”
Rev. Dr. Barber was first elected leader of the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter in 2005 and has been the face of activism in the state in various roles. He led the fight against House Bill 2 (HB2), and under his leadership the organization continues to fight the anti-LGBTQ “repeal” of the bill, HB 142.
The dedicated leader is also pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C. Barber leads a nonprofit called Repairers of the Breach, aimed at addressing voter suppression and poverty. He initiated the NAACP’s Moral Mondays protests at the state capitol which practiced peaceful resistance to injustice. This year’s annual Moral March took place in February. Rev. Dr. Barber is also a professor of public theology at Union Theological Seminary.
“The New Poor People’s Campaign is a most fitting next destination for Rev. Barber,” said NC NAACP Political Action Chair Derrick Smith.“We in the NC NAACP are looking forward to working with Rev. Barber in this new role. The nation is in desperate need of moral clarity. The question that we all face centers squarely on whether public policy is a tool for justice, peace and humanity. The moral message articulated by Rev. Barber that resounds so clearly in North Carolina’s justice movement, now belongs to the nation. We are saddened with Rev. Barber’s departure, but also excited to move the message of hope toward the greater society.”
The New Poor People’s Campaign is organized by the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary, and Rev. Dr. Barber will lead training and organization with other moral and faith leaders. The project hopes to advocate for the needs of poor communities of all colors, and will report its findings on poverty in “The Souls of Poor Folk.” Early 2018 will find a 40-day mobilization of action nationwide, including planned civil disobedience.
“We need a narrative shift that’s … not just about the normal discussion of left vs. right and conservative vs. liberal, but really a reset of our deepest values,” Barber told <Associated Press> in a phone interview. “Dr. King said in 1968 we needed a moral revolution of values, and we say we need a moral revival.”
The reverend elaborated in a press release from the NC NAACP:
“There is a need for moral analysis, articulation of a moral agenda, and moral activism that fuses the critique of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and national morality in a way that enables organizing among black, brown, and white people, especially in regions where great efforts have been made to keep them from forming alliances and standing together to change the political and social calculus.”