I moved to the Triangle area of North Carolina in 2014, and I had only heard of Rev. William Barber through the media, namely through his Moral Mondays movement. What I remember most was a news clip in which he had on overalls. He didn’t look the part. He looked like a bygone image of a civil rights leader from decades past. But he spoke with a passionate, righteous indignation about the larger issues of human rights in our country and the ways in which racism and white supremacy insidiously affect our lives as Americans. He immediately gained my attention.
Rev. Barber embodies the perfect marriage of critical intellectualism and practical activism. His ability to stand with fire shut up in his bones and prophetically declare this the time for a “Third Reconstruction” resonates with both my mind and my spirit. Such a kindling is rare in the age when identity politics rule the day. His righteous mind is un-bought and un-bossed—governed neither by corporate interest nor likes on Facebook or retweets on Twitter.
I see him not as a singular prophet among the people, but in the spirit of Black Lives Matter, one out of the many who hope for a better America. Barber does not just “speak truth to power” because he knows that no one person or one group has a monopoly on truth. Instead, Rev. Barber “speaks a truth that empowers”—refreshing and enlightening the entire being. In the same way that President Obama opted for a long vision of the country in his State of the Union address, so does Rev. Barber.
For this, I am grateful that Rev. Barber has been called to be a part of humanity at such a time in our history.