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The Reverend Dr. William Barber II Steps Down from NAACP to Join New Poor People’s Campaign

Rev Dr William J Barber II
Photo credit: Pilar Rose Timpane

After twelve years of leading the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II has announced that he is stepping down as state chapter president. He’ll be joining activists and faith leaders across the nation to lead them in a new Poor People’s Campaign, envisioned to advocate economic justice for all across the racial spectrum.

“The fights for racial and economic equality are as inseparable today as they were half a century ago. Make no mistake about it: We face a crisis in America. The twin forces of white supremacy and unchecked corporate greed have gained newfound power and influence, both in statehouses across this nation and at the highest levels of our federal government…At such a time as this, we need a new Poor People’s Campaign for Moral Revival to help us become the nation we’ve not yet been.”

They held a press conference on May 15 to discuss plans for the campaign in 2017 and 2018.

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC organized the first Poor People’s Campaign with the same goal. Work that Dr. King put into building the multiracial movement came to an end with his assassination. Now Rev. Barber is picking up the campaign where Dr. King left off, which will also continue Rev. Barber’s mission of moral revival to overcome the politics of division and fear.

“Though Trump’s presidency is the culmination of a violent backlash against the Second Reconstruction that Dr. King and many others led, the future of our democracy depends on us completing the work of a Third Reconstruction today. This is why I hear the Spirit calling us to build a new Poor People’s Campaign.”

In 2013, Rev. Barber helped launch the Moral Mondays protests, the largest state government-focused civil disobedience campaign in American history. He wrote about this movement and his work on bridging our country’s racial divide in The Third Reconstruction. Additionally, he makes a historically grounded argument that Moral Mondays are evidence of a burgeoning Third Reconstruction. As he made known on Twitter, the Poor People’s Campaign is part of the long-term goal of reviving the heart of democracy.

Rev Barber TweetRev. Barber’s new ventures in community action and activism prove that he is very much a part of the revolutionary tradition, as Cornel West would put it, of Black prophetic fire.