The Hope of America’s Possibility, with Rev. William J. Barber II | #OBConf2019

The Hope of America’s Possibility, with Rev. William J. Barber II | #OBConf2019


It’s my honor to introduce our keynote and
I’m going to give him the full measure of his intro so that we can turn this page over. So please bear with me and listen Close. The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II is a pastor. Yes, right out the gates you know, so, okay,
good charge then, I said his name. Well done. The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II is a pastor
and social justice advocate building a broad based grassroots movement grounded in the
moral tenets of faith based communities and the constitution to confront systemic racism,
poverty, environmental devastation, the war economy and the distorted moral narrative
of religious nationalism in America today. As pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in
Greensboro, North Carolina since 1993 and president of the North Carolina Conference
of the NAACP from 2005 to 2017 Barber approaches to social justice through a lens of the ethical
and moral treatment of people as laid out in the Christian Bible. The reconstruction and civil rights movement
of the South and the United States constitution. He is effective at building unusually inclusive
fusion coalitions that are multiracial and interfaith reaching across race, gender, age,
and class lines, and dedicated to addressing poverty and equality and systemic racism. When his work came to expand voting rights,
healthcare, living wages, immigrant rights, public education, and LGBTQ rights, when his
work was thwarted by extremist state lawmakers in North Carolina, Barber began a series of
moral Monday rallies outside the state house in Raleigh to protest laws that suppress voter
turnout, cut funding for public education and health care, and further disenfranchised
poor white, black, first nation and LGBTQ communities. The moral Mondays rallies and associated nonviolent
acts of civil disobedience grew to involve tens of thousands of participants across North
Carolina and spreads to states across the south. The movement wage says successful legal challenges
to voter suppression and racial gerrymandering winning twice at the Supreme Court. In 2014 Barber founded Repairers of the Breach,
a leadership organization developed to expand and build a national movement rooted in moral
analysis, moral articulation, and moral action. In 2016 he led a moral revival tour that covered
26 states and attracted thousands. In 2017 he and colleagues launched a revival
of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign that was spearheaded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
and many others. Beginning with an audit of systemic racism,
poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy in the US since 1968. The campaign has been recast for the 21st
century, building state and local nonpartisan fusing movements committed to shifting the
moral narrative, building power and challenging laws and policies that hurt the poor and threaten
our democracy. In 2018 The Poor People’s Campaign launched
40 days of moral, nonviolent civil disobedient in 40 states and in Washington DC, resulting
in over 5,000 acts of simultaneous civil disobedience in 36 state capitals and the US capital. Merging moral and activist traditions, Barber
is providing a faith based framework for action that strengthen civic engagement and inspires
the country to imagine a more humane society. William Barber received a BA in 1985 from
North Carolina Central University, a Master’s of divinity in 1989 from Duke University and
a doctorate of ministry in 2003 from Drew university. He also receives seven honorary doctorate
degrees. From 2006 to 2017 Barber was president of
the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP, and has been a member of the national board since
2005. He is a distinguished visiting Professor at
Union Theological Seminary. His publications include the coauthored books
Forward Together, A Moral Message for the Nation, The Third Reconstruction, Moral Mondays,
Fusion Politics, and The Rise of a New Justice Movement and Revival us again, Vision and
Action and Moral Organizing. He’s a contributing Op-ed writer for the New
York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post. Barber is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, a 2018
Tar Heel of the year, an Auburn Seminary senior fellow and holds the visiting social justice
chair at Saint John’s university. We are so lucky, so blessed, so gifted with
his presence. Please show your love, your undying love for
the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II. We must be honest about the foundations of
the political and economic system we call America. I love America because of her potential. But I know that America will never even get
close to being a more perfect nation until we are honest about the politics of rejection. I want to tell you about some of the leaders
who are building the Poor People’s Campaign. Callie Greer from Selma, Alabama who had to
bury her daughter Venus because she didn’t have health care. I’m here to share my daughter Venus’s Story. Venus discovered a small lump in her breast
and she wasn’t insured. Venus had to be approved for every prescription
and every piece of medical equipment that she needed. I’m standing here today in solidarity with
the Poor People’s Campaign because no one should have to bury their child in America
because they don’t have health care insurance. I’m 46 years old. I’ve lived in poverty here in West Virginia
every day in my life and I’m working. I am working poor with a bachelor’s degree. I’m doing the best I can with what I have. I’m a second generation fast food worker and
I’ve experienced the cycle of poverty firsthand. Growing up I watched my mother endure long
hours of backbreaking labor, doing everything she could to feed me and my sisters. My employer barely pays me enough to pay rent
or utilities, let alone with the medical expenses with my mother. I worked 41 years in the coal mines. I have black lung and it’s just unfathomable
what this poor coal miners have to go through in order to get what they had worked for and
deserve. I’m a Vietnam veteran. My only chance of going to college was joining
the army. It was one thing to know that you didn’t have
water and you couldn’t afford your water. It’s a whole another to find out that they
shut off your entire community and none of you matter. But when I lost my housing, healthcare and
income all at the same time, I was terrified, panicked. Hi, my name is Pamela Rush, I’m from Lowndes
County Alabama, and I live in a mobile home with my two kids. And I got raw sewage, I don’t have no money,
no help. I have like a travel back and forth with [inaudible
00:07:27] to take my daughter with [inaudible 00:07:30]. Don’t have a car, don’t have nobody to take. This is the largest encampment in Aberdeen. It was about 1000 people in a town of 16,000
who are homeless. In my community we all shut off for the day
because none of us could afford our water bills. In the past my family wasn’t able to afford
electricity in winter it was very hard on all of us. This wall, this is sin of the highest order. When there are 38 million poor children. When 60% of African Americans are poor, when
65% of Latinx are poor. When 40% of Asians are poor. When there are 67 million poor white people,
we must say this is not right. Our brothers and sisters are sleeping on the
streets. For a country this rich to have so many people
poor it’s immoral and it’s wrong. Our backs are against the wall and we got
no choice but to push. We lift our voices for justice. We put our bodies on the line for mercy and
together we will proclaim liberty throughout the land for the enslaved, for the poor and
for us all. All of the breaking news in Albany where a
large group of protesters have me into the street. Washington Avenue Between City Hall and Wall
Street close down. Protesters with The Poor People’s Campaign
of Indiana. 2 o’clock on the east coast, 2 o’clock in
the middle, 2 o’clock on the west coast. A wave and the historians tell us it’s never
happened before. Our communities, Muslim communities who have
joined the Poor People’s Campaign, you can count on us. Our democracy is in trouble. Our democracy is in trouble. And we come to demand. And we come to demand. Back and running. Because it’s crucial that we make ourselves
heard no one is listening. We write letters, we make calls no one is
listening. So we got to find a way to make our selves
heard. We are The Poor People Campaigns, a national
call for more reliable. We are here, we are poor, we are [inaudible
00:10:09] and we’re here to say to our nation’s capital and to the highest court of this land
that everybody has a right to live. Everybody has a right learn, everybody has
a right love, everybody has a right to living wages, everybody has a right to vote. Everybody has a right to thrive, to thrive
in the society. To the poor and the clergy we read article
six of Kentucky state constitution. They said we have a right to free assembly. We are demanding that we stop the war on our
poor. We demand. We demand. The right to vote. The right to vote. For formerly incarcerated. You need to cease and desist immediately or
you’ll be arrested. There will be a movement that will break through
the town and bring people together to save the heart and the soul of this democracy and
this world. While you’re standing would you join me in
saying forward together? Forward together. Not one step back. Not one step back. Come on, say it louder. Forward together. Forward together. Not one step back. Not one step back. Forward together. Forward together. Not one step back. Not one step back. Give yourselves a big hand for being here
today. I am deeply humbled to be invited to be here,
to be with such a body as this in times like this, I’m so thankful to the grace of God
and the spirit of the universe to rather John Power. Where is he? Somewhere in here. Let’s give it up and the institute. And to all of you who are gathered. I want to ask you to go to www.breachrepairs.org. Repairs of the Breach and make sure you sign
up to get connected and to also click on the Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for
moral revival icon. And also if you would take down 90975 and
text moral, that’s three things to do. Go to www.breachrepairs.org click on that. So you’re connected with repairers of the
breach where I am the president and senior lecturer, hookup with us on Twitter and otherwise,
and then go to your phones and do 90975 at sometime today and click in moral. We the people must refuse to be otherized
and ignored. We the people must refuse to be otherized
and ignored. If my spirits seems a little somber today
is because yesterday the ninth and some people forget this would have been the day that Martin
Luther King was buried 51 years ago? And in his last sermon on the evening before
he shot down by a vicious system that produced an assassin outside the Lorraine Hotel in
Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King offered the conclusion that serves
us well as a starting point for how we understand our work, our callings in this moment in 2019. Now oftentimes when we remember Dr. King,
we make some fatal errors. One is that we remember him like he was some
lone individual and not deeply committed to movement and movement building and organizing. Two, we remember the end of his various sermons
like, I Have a Dream or I’ve been to the mountain top and I’ve looked over that camp, but we
don’t and for reasons that corporate America has chosen to keep us from doing it, we don’t
look at the substance of what he was saying and the radical nature of what he was saying. I was just at the monument last week and if
you go in my fraternity helped place that monument there. But if you look at that monument, none of
his most radical quotes are there. Well that won’t happen today. 51 years ago, April the third Dr. King preached
and he said this, America is a sick nation, and then he said, we must give ourselves to
the struggle for wholeness until the end. And nothing would be more tragic than for
us to stop at this point. We must see it through. We must recognize we either go up together
or we go down together. This is the Martin Luther King, the PhD, who
was a preacher who was standing with sanitation workers over against even many members of
his staff. This was the Martin Luther King that was engaged
with Welfare rights workers and Jewish persons and others, many others, Cesar Chavez and
others who were planning the Poor People’s Campaign. This is the Martin Luther King that was standing
with sanitation workers who were resisting political and economic otherization with the
simple slogan, I am a man. Dr. King at that time had named three evils. Yes, he called it evil that constantly work
to divide and otherize people. Racism, poverty and militarism. And he saw them as a [inaudible 00:18:13]
evil collusion that could not be understood by separating anyone from the other. And by the way, this was not the first time
he had made the connection. If you go back to some of his sermons at his
church in 58′ one of them was Paul’s letter to American Christians, and he talked about
the dangers of greedy run a muck capitalism, and economic injustice war. This was the king who knew one could not challenge
one of these evils without challenging them all. This was the king who understood that we must
have a kind of eternal discontent with the demonic forces of racism, poverty and militarism. 51 years ago, however, Martin Luther King
Junior didn’t live 24 hours after he said nothing would be more tragic than for us to
turn back now. None of us could have imagined when he was
murdered that he would become a martyr in the struggle. And he was a martyr in the struggle for the
beloved community and a multiethnic democracy that somehow after his assassination, he would
within a half a century, achieved the status of a founding father on the National Mall. King had been the target of Jager Hoover,
the FBI, when he named these three evils, President Johnson took his open invitation
to the White House. When he named these three evils church people
put him out, his own denomination walked away from him. Civil rights organizations and foundations
walked away from him because he constantly question systems that marginalized, diminished
the place and humanity of some people. He questioned the violence of war and a war
economy. He questioned the evil of racism and poverty
and that’s why on today, the day right after he would have been buried yesterday. I had to remember this because we can never
speak of his legacy without recognizing how he showed us that the Americas experiment
in democracy always and will always require radical struggle to move us toward a more
perfect union. He was a radical witness that everybody is
made in the Imago Dei. The image of God, the image of the eternal,
and everybody has a place in the beloved community. And he knew some words and an ethic that in
2019 we better know nothing would be more tragic than for us to turn back from the fight
for humanity now, nothing. Now to be sure we find a similar vision in
our declaration of Independence and constitutional ideals, even though the white men who signed
their names to those documents never were truly faithful to that. And yet we can never give up on demanding
what this country has said on paper, now the king said it like this. If you didn’t mean it, you shouldn’t have
written it down. Because what any people puts down on paper
can become a basis for public accountability. A nation founded in revolution must always
remain open to reassessment and new revolutions in every era in order to fight for the full
humanity of all people. And so every now and then since we ought to
go back to those document like the one that was written 243 years ago, July 4th 1776. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men… Mistake right there. All men are created equal, that they are endowed
by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness.” That to secure these rights governments are
instituted, but then I love this line that whenever any form of government becomes destructive
to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute a
new government. You want to have a conversation about conservative
interpretation of the constitution, where here it is, we have the right talk to alter
any political system whenever it becomes dangerous and detrimental to the principles of life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for everyone. That is why later on, Frederick Douglas would
say in the 1800 when asked about the 4th of July, he said, “You ask me about your celebration. Well, let me tell you about your celebration. It is fraud, bombast. It is wrong. It is a cover-up for evil until you do write
about sons and daughters of slaves, and I would say to you, do right by all people. On 1787, 232 years ago we the people of the
United States in order to form… Let me just put a pause here and say to my
friends, I don’t know, you call yourself a radical revolutionaries, liberals, whatever
you are, but stop letting the so called extremists have the constitution. We the people of the United States in order
to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the
common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves
and our posterity. There’s no way in the constitution where freedom
is mentioned and the conversation about liberty does not even come into after four moral criteria
I met. Otherwise, you do not have a liberty that’s
worth it to be passed on. And that is number one, the establishment
of justice. And number two, domestic tranquility, not
domestic division and number three, providing for the common defense, not just the defense
of a few lobbies. And number four to promote… Here comes that word. Most of us won’t say it in the modern day. The general welfare. Some of you are scared to say it. Try it one time. Say welfare. Welfare. You let these folks make you throw away the
language that is ours. An any pretense about liberty that does not
establish justice does not provide for the common defense, that divides people rather
than pulls them together and it undermines the promoting of the general welfare is contrary
to what was put on paper. That’s why Fannie Lou Hamer in 1964, 55 years
ago at the Democratic convention said I was in jail when they murdered Medgar Evers. Many of us have had to deal with death threats
and our phones being tapped and all kinds of brutality just because we want the right
to vote and if this is America, then I question America. There must be a remnant that is always willing
to question America or like Rabbi Heschel, Rabbi Heschel, who in 1963 just before the
march on Washington wrote to John F. Kennedy and the Rabbi said, “Mr President America
forfeits the right to worship God until you do right by the Negro period.” Or Coretta Scott King who after her husband’s
murder went on the tour during the days between the funeral and then afterwards and somebody
asked, mother Coretta said, “Your husband was shot and murdered. Tell us about what is violence to you?” She said, “Well, violence is my husband’s
murder, but violence is so much more.” She said, “Poverty can produce a most deadly
kind of violence.” She said, “In a society of violence against
poor people and minority groups is routine.” She says, “I remind you that starving a child
is violence. Suppressing a culture is violence. Neglecting school children is violence, discrimination
against working people is violence. Ghetto housing is violence, ignoring medical
needs and healthcare is violence. Contempt for equality is violence and watch
this. Even a lack of willpower and an apathetic
spirit that refuses to challenge these other forms of violence is itself violent.” So sometimes the question for us is, are we
going to be on the side of violence or nonviolence? In this moment we in the Poor People’s Campaign,
a national call for a moral revival believes we are in the midst and we must have in this
nation a third reconstruction. We must find a way to make clear today that
the moral and constitutional crisis we face in America is not just about Republicans versus
Democrats or liberal versus conservative. It is really instead about fundamental right
against wrong fundamental humanity who we will write off and who we will include. We are in a struggle for the heart and soul
of this nation for years to come. In a real sense right now we face a question
and we are not the first ones, but it is our time to face it. And that question is whether or not America
can be, whether or not at least the ideals of the constitution written by flawed men
can even be amended and can survive. Because for a half century now, political
operatives who paved the way for Trumpism used Richard Nixon’s southern strategy to
pit black, brown and white people against one another. They have hijacked our moral narrative to
frame narrow cultural differences as the only moral issue in public life. And they’ve tried to paint the resistance
to their consolidation of power as anti-American or socialism. And we cannot remain silent while America’s
experiment in democracy is being trampled in front of our faces. We must have a movement, a moral fusion movement. Because not only have extremists done that,
many times progressives have chosen to seek, how can we find a messiah political campaign
candidate to save us rather than build a movement that will transform the entire political landscape
of this nation. Because you do know that Trump is not America’s
biggest problem. I knew I wouldn’t get too much agreement with
that, but the reality is if you think this is the first time we’ve had a racist president,
evidently you haven’t read. If you think this is the first time we’ve
had an Islamophobe, a xenophobe, a homophobe in the White House you haven’t read, you missed
a whole lot of history classes. Nell Painter that Princeton scholar says Trump
is the iconography of a too often repeated American reality. We take a few steps forward and then we go
backwards. Trump benefits from an audience that’s been
prepared for more than 50 years. Kevin Phillips, when he wrote it for Richard
Nixon said, listen, if we’re going to win in the days to come, he say, here’s a plan
to win the country, to control the country without having a majority of the votes for
the next 50 years. But you got to learn how to pit black and
white and brown poor people against all another and you can’t use straight up racial language. So you’ve got to come up with code language
and Lee Atwater described what that code language was. You don’t say, Nigga, can’t do that after
1954 ’55, ’56 so what you talk about is forced busing, entitlement reform, gay people, praying
in school, vouchers for private school. And then you get real clever and you talk
about tax cuts, which is all or nothing but code words because those policies hurt blacks
worse than whites, but it also makes many poor whites think that their problems are
because of black and brown people. Thereby you split and you split and you keep
the 13 southern states split. Why? Because if you can control the 13 southern
states in any presidential election, you start with 170 plus electoral votes. She means you only need 99 from the other
37 states. If you can use this otherization politically,
you can control 31% of the United States House of Representatives by just controlling the
13 southern states from Maryland to Texas, and you can control 26 members of the United
States Senate means you only need 25 from the other 37 states. If you notice history, you understand why
Trump is continuing to play to what he’s playing and why it’s not just him but his enablers. I’ve used this and some people said I might
not ought to use it, but I think it’s fairly analogous to what we’re seeing maybe it helps
people because it shocks you to see what I’m trying to say. Because I know most of the folk in here in
this room think if we just have the right election. I’m not saying we ought not get rid of him. I’m not saying he ought not go home to Mar-a-Lago
or somewhere. I’m not saying that. But I do want to say in this room if you think
that’s all we need to deal with. That is just about one person. That is a misdiagnosis of the otherization
that is going on right now. Because some people would be glad to get rid
of him because they’ve already used him for what they wanted him for, the supreme court,
the tax cuts. So what yo have to understand is how many
of you all ever had a cold, a bad cold? Raise your hand. Nobody had had a bad cold, I can’t hardly
see for he’s like, this man over here had never had a cold, y’all need to learn him
here. He never had a cold in his life, everybody
had a bad cold. Everybody ever had to sneeze. Everybody that’s had something come out when
you sneeze, okay? That’s what Trump is and that’s what his enablers
are. They are the symptom of a sickness. And if you’re going to treat the cold or flu,
you wipe the symptom, but you got to get some medicine that gets down in your vein and then
your blood line. If you really are to deal with a serious,
you got to find out what is it that’s poisoning the bloodline that’s causing the symptoms
in the first place, and so we must have a movement I believe that it’s committed. If we’re don’t really deal with otherization
to take on the five interlocking injustices and evils that thrive on and produce more
of the otherizations. The first one is we must deal with the issue
of systemic racism. To all my brothers and sisters, White, black
and brown and otherwise, If we don’t want to deal with systemic racism, we really don’t
want to deal with otherization. And systemic racism is not just about what
it does to black people. But as my friend Jonathan Metzl on that talks
about people who are dying from whiteness, right? And I’m not talking about cultural racism. I’m about so sick of that conversation where
somebody says the N word or somebody talks about somebody curves being too big. That’s ugly. That’s grotesque. But that’s not the real racism. In fact, the truth of the matter is, and this
culture, there’s a new book that’s come out that makes it plain, in this culture racism
didn’t start with cultural antics and grotesque statement. Racism started with systems of injustice and
then the grossness and the words follow as justification for the political racism. Real racism is not about what’s in your heart. It’s about what’s in your policies. You can sit beside me every day and never
called me the N word and never called me something negative, but work every day on policies that
have a disparate impact, an othering impact on on my life. And so we got to deal with systemic racism
if we’re going to really deal with otherization. Systemic racism, systemic racism, systemic
racism like voter suppression. No, that’s the wrong term. Racist voter suppression. When you leave this conference, don’t ever
call it voter suppression anymore. Call it what it is. Racist voter suppression. Voter suppression is directly targeted at
black and brown folk to undermine the ability for black, brown, and white folk to build
coalitions, racist voter suppression. And guess what? Long before Trump even started talking about
birtherism, 26 states since 2019 past racist gerrymandering, racist voter suppression and
we have constantly seen our presidential elections in the 21st century be impacted by the Electoral
College, one of the last vestiges of the politics of a slave nation that works in collusion
to keep extremists in office, racist voter suppression, redistricting, gerrymandering. There are racist voter suppression. Every state of those 13 states I mentioned
has engaged in racist voter suppression. Now here’s the irony my brothers and sisters,
you want to talk about a real irony of evil or real ugliness of evil. We did a study in the Poor People’s Campaign
and we looked at all the states that had passed racist voter suppression laws and then we
map those states based on poverty, based on women’s rights, based on LGBTQ rights, based
on labor rights, based on health care, based on living wage. And guess what? Every state that has engaged in racist voter
suppression laws, those laws have allowed people to get elected who once they get elected,
they pass policies that hurt mostly white people. I go to conferences all the time and people
are talking about issues and they act as though voter suppression is just a black issue is
targeted at black and brown people, but understand racism is ultimately against humanity. The same states that are voter suppression
states did not have healthcare expansion, the same states that are voter suppression
states had the highest levels of child poverty and women in poverty, the same states that
engaged in racist voter suppression block living wages and labor rights, the same state
that past racist voter suppression law have the weakest laws to support the LGBTQ community. So you cannot be concerned about all these
other issues and not be fundamentally concerned about America’s original sin that continues
to be perpetrated through things like racist voter suppression, resegregation in high poverty
schools, mass incarceration, the constant racialist badgering of our immigrant brothers
and sisters, where now it’s becoming okay for people to use terminology to promote racist
policies against our immigrant brothers and sisters that could very well be lifted from
transcripts of Hitler. And don’t forget the constant racist attack
on our first nation and native people who experienced the first genocide in this land. There is no way to fight otherization without
dealing with systemic racism, but not only that, if we’re going to deal with systemic
racism, we’ve also got to deal with the reality of systemic poverty. Somebody say systemic poverty. Systemic poverty. Systemic poverty. Right now in this country, there are 140 million
poor people. Don’t you ever believe the government stat,
again that says it’s only 37, 40 million people. When you look at the poor, poverty and low
wealth, there are 140 million people that are being othered as poor and low wealth,
that’s 43.5% of this nation. That’s 60% of black people, which is 26 million
black people. That’s 33% of white people, but 66 million
white people, which means that 40 million more white people are poor per capita than
black. Even though 60% of black people are poor and
low wealth in the richest nation in the world. In this nation, 400 of the wealthiest Americans
own more wealth than the bottom 64%. 400 families earn an average of $97,000 an
hour while they will lock you up in this country for going in the street for 15 and a union. Nice to hear some of you say, “But Rev. Barber
we hear these facts. Why the facts?” Because most people don’t know it and we are
accepting the otherization. And we admit too many people don’t understand
that the real crisis is not the our border. Because really the people in Mexico didn’t
cross the border. Our borders crossed them in the 1800 if I
could tell the truth, when Texas wanted to keep it slaves and Mexico was anti-slavery
before Texas. That’s why as a black man and a Tuscaroroan
Indian, you ain’t going to never get me to be against Latino people. Because I know who wanted my freedom first. You can’t run that game on me. But the real emergency is not at the border
is in the borders. The poverty, the lie about scarcity, the damn
lie about scarcity, there’s no scarcity when we want to give two and $3 trillion tax cut
to those who don’t need it. Over the years, last 30 years, Dr. King was
talking about poverty and 50 years ago, and the word poverty has also been almost been
erased from our national dialogue. We had 26 presidential debates in 2016 Democrat
and Republican and not one of them was on systemic racism or poverty, not one with 43.5%
of the people of this country living in poverty. And over the last three years, rents have
gone up faster than income and nearly every urban area in this country since 2010 the
affordable housing stock has declined by 60%. In 2016, listen, there was no state in America
or a county in this nation where somebody earning the federal minimum wage of 7.25 could
afford a two bedroom apartment at market rate. Nowhere in America, nowhere. Most places you’d have to work 80 to 84 hours
a week just to earn a basic two room apartment. And there are 500,000 over a half million
people experiencing homeless is every night in the richest nation in the world with empty
houses everywhere and of this population, 41% are black, 47% are white, 2.5 to 3.5 million
people are sheltered homeless. 7.4 million are estimated on the brink of
homelessness. The largest number of women and young people
are LGBTQ, youth who represent 20 to 40% of the homeless population. And yet every time a presidential caravan
comes into a city, they make sure they take the route around. Sometimes even we do, we come to our conferences
straight from the airport, straight to the hotel, and never even see a… We never even shown a picture of what is really
like in San Francisco or Oakland. And nothing would be more tragic than for
us to turn back on facing the issue of systemic racism and poverty. But not only that, we have to address the
war economy and militarism because every time somebody asks, where can we get the money
to do right by the poor? Is in the military and militarism. At the height of the Vietnam War, the military
was spending $354 billion. Today we’re spending $6068 billion. While anti-poverty programs only receive $190
billion, 53 cents and if Trump and his warmongers have their way, it’s going to be 62 cents
of every discretionary dollar will go to war while only 15 cents goes to antipoverty program
and they’re trying to cut that as well. By 2023 the goal is to so otherize the poor
that only 12 cents of every discretionary dollar goes to the poor. Nothing would be more tragic than for us to
turn back now in the fight for humanity, if who’s included, we must resist being silent
on the issue of otherization and who’s going to be included. We have spent nearly $5.6 trillion in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Syria. $5.6 trillion. And yet everybody, when they talk about how
are we going to fund health care, we’re going to have to raise taxes, know if we would stop
funding so much death, we could fund life. And the majority of what we’re funding now
are military contractors not even our soldiers. And military contractors earn an average of
$19.2 million a year, the CEO while the average combat soldier only earns $30,000 a year,
which means that even here in many places, they would be considered living in poverty. And in 2012 more military personnel died from
suicide than the battlefield. And then there’s this fourth interlocking
injustice and evil that promotes and fuels otherization. And that is ecological devastation, fossil
fuel and chemical and other industries are poisoning the air, the water. No, they’re not. They’re poisoning the air, the water and the
land closest to the most marginalized people. Let’s be real about it, now eventually, if
it gets in the air, it’s going to kill everybody. It seemed like they would know that, but right
now an estimated 9 million premature deaths occurred worldwide in 2015, three times as
many deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria coming from poisoning our environment. Water pollution alone kills 1.8 million people
a year around the world. And in the US 13.8 million low income houses
cannot afford water and why we talk about Flint and should and the governor should go
to jail, under the jail for what they really did. But the reality is 4 million families get
up every day and they can buy unleaded gas and can’t buy unleaded water. And the 20 counties with the highest percentage
of households lacking access to plumbing are all rural counties and 13 of those counties
are majority native American and Alaskan native population. It is the policy of otherization, kill them. Poison them. And nothing would be more tragic than for
us to turn back now while fighting for full humanity and who will be included and then
not only do we have that 37 million people even with the Affordable Care Act or without
health care. Do you know what that translates to, 5,600
people die for every 1 million that are denied health care, that’s 24 people every hour. That’s policy murder. Because all the people in the congress that
are fighting people getting health care free, get free health care by virtue of being elected. And for the life of me, I just can’t believe
that when they were born, their mama looked at them and pick them up and said, “God, I
thank you for giving me a child that will keep other folk from having a healthcare,
God I just thank you. I am so glad that you let me have this child
that will help other people die. It’s the most blessing thing in the world,
Lord. Thank you.” Where did folk becomes so sickened in their
spirit? And we must fight not against our fellow citizens,
but against the systems and the evils that are destroying them in hopes that even some
of them will be transformed. In in my days I pray for Trump because if
a man could do this much foolishness with lies and hate, how much good could he do with
truth and love? I mean, I really do. I don’t want to other nobody. I believe in the possibility of everybody’s
redemption. If it never happened, I have to believe it. And that’s why I can’t fight you like you
fight me because I can’t become what I hate. [inaudible 00:52:02] And then lastly, oh yes,
there’s this fifth thing that really foster otherization and that is the false and distorted
narrative of Christian and religious nationalism. Lord have mercy. When you have these people claiming they’re
speaking on behalf of God and they say so much about what God says so little and so
little about what God says so much. Let me give you all a news flash. Ain’t no such thing as Christian, right or
Christian left you either Christian or you ain’t it, kind of like being pregnant. And you don’t get to choose. You don’t get to choose what the ethic is. You don’t just get to say, “Well this is the
Christian right?” If as you call it Christian, you’ve got to
run by Jesus, and Jesus was clear about his public policy agenda and he ain’t no republican
and he’s not a Democrat, but I had him in the Bible. Oh Lord, I read it, I have a bible conversation
because Jesus said, the spirit of the Lord is upon me. For he has anointed me to preach good news
to the poor in Greek that’s [Greek 00:53:08]. It means those who have been made poor by
the economic and just systems in this world. That’s what he said at the beginning of his
life and at the end of his life he said, I’m going to judge every nation, America, Afghanistan,
Egypt, South America. I’m going to judge every nation. How? When I was a stranger, an undocumented worker,
did you welcome me? When I was sick did you heal me? When I was hungry, did you feed me? When didn’t have any water, did you contaminate
it or did you get me something to drink? And it’s high time that we call much of this
stuff what it is, modern day heresy. Whenever you have ministers so called ministers
who will go and pray for any president P-R-A-Y for that president, while that president or
senator is praying P-R-E-I-Y-N-G on the very people that God says he cares the most about
or she cares the most about you are engaged in a lie. A theological malpractice. And so these five interlocking injustices
and evils that promote and feed off otherization. In order to address them, we believe that
we had to launch the Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for moral revival. Notice we didn’t say another organization,
we don’t need another organization. We need an organism. Where all of us can come together and do some
things together. I know we got our silos, but every now and
then there’s a time comes in the nation we must join together in a moral fusion and understand
the interlocking injustices and we meet that with a moral fusion intersectional response
and that’s why we’ve come together, black and white and brown and native and Asian and
gay and straight and young and old and people of faith like Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu
people, not of faith, but who believe in the moral arc of the universe and we must stand
together to say that America’s future depends on yet another revolution, not just another
election. Even though that election is important and
it may be a part of the revolution, but we need a movement of the people committed to
reconstruct the democracy and guaranteeing equal protection for every human being rooted
in deep love and deep truth. That’s why the Poor People’s Campaign now
we have 41 coordinating committees in 41 states in District of Columbia. That’s why last year we launched in over 5,000
people put their bodies on the line in 41 states in district of Columbia were arrested
as the launch. That’s why thousands joined and millions by
video. That’s why right now there’re 28 bus tours
going on across this country with AP and the press embedded where they’re going into where
the people are, the hurt people, not people talking about the people, but letting the
people talk about themselves. That’s why in June I want some of you all
to come to the Poor People’s March action congress where we going to release a constitutional
justice, poverty budget and also an agenda if the other folk got CPAC telling lies, we
need PMAC to tell the truth. That’s what it is PPMAC, P-P-M-A-C and then
after PPMAC we’re going to go back and be a power. We’re trying to shift this narrative and we
can do it together. The statistics tell us, I was looking at them
just last night from a magazine from prospect that more people believe in the things we
believe in than we know believe in the things we believe in, but we need a sounding in the
valley because people are depressed and we need to go into valley and cry loud where
the movement so that the dry bones can get up and we can all join together. And so next year on June 20th, 6:20 we’re
calling for a Poor People’s Assembly and Moral Match on Washington where we want thousands
of people that come and when they get there, we don’t give the stage away to the people
impacted by racism and impacted by poverty and impacted by ecological devastation so
that Americans can see themselves. Trump didn’t win the election. He lost by 4.5 million votes. He got in because of a racist electoral college. But he also lost because 100 million folks
stayed home because they don’t ever hear anybody talking about the real issues that impact
their life. Well, it’s time for us to change that and
the politicians can’t change it. They never have. You have to have a movement that changes the
political climate and gives the politicians courage to make the adjustment. Yes. As the constitution says, we must alter this
government and we must do it until living wages and guarantee protections from the poor
are not seen as a Bernie issue or as the mayor’s issue or as any one candidate issue. But as a moral issue. That expanding voting rights and transitioning
away from fossil fuels and guaranteeing labor rights and affordable housing and fair policies
for immigrants and critiquing warmongering and equality and education by guaranteeing
every child receives a high quality well-funded, diverse public education and healthcare for
everybody and fantasy in the criminal justice system and fighting the proliferation of guns
and blocking the unholy alliance that the NRA has on our policy and fighting for women’s
rights and LGBTQ rights and demanded the equal protection under the law is nonnegotiable. These are moral issues. And so as I close, this is what those who
struggle before us fought and died for, is not new. It’s just our time and we have more than they
have when they fought. So we ought to be better. So hunch your neighbors say, crying time is
over. It’s movement time. Yeah. And I know we’re headed into holy week soon,
so I need to preach a little bit. Put that time call down. I’ll be through in just a second. I didn’t fly five hours bend my hip up not
to finish what I had to say. Oh Lord 2000 years ago. Oh, out on the edge of what was called the
Roman Empire, filled with greed and oppression, violence and narcissistic leadership. 2000 years ago, there was a leader on the
throne who loved to put his name on buildings and said that he and he alone could save the
whole world. His name was Trump, I mean Caesar. Oh God. And at that time, a brown skin, Palestinian
Jew named Jesus started a poor people’s movement. He called people together. He said, oh everybody. He said, my house shall be a house of prayer
for all people. He called together the rejected. Those rejected by the political establishment,
those rejected by the religious establishment. And he blessed them. And through the centuries, a lot of people
have tried to make Jesus into a lot of thing, but we are here together and I’m here because
in my faith I’ve learned that through Jesus and through the other prophets and through
the various religious faith that the world doesn’t change when powerful people get new
ideas. The world changes when people who’ve been
rejected come together and realize that they are blessed to show their neighbors that another
world is possible. Change happen when those who have been otherized
decide we ain’t taking in no more. Yeah. I’ve been traveling across this country for
the last two years, from the Bronx to the border, from Appalachia to Aberdeen, the deep
South, to California coast, and it’s become clear that people are ready to come together
that have been otherized. We’ve heard from mothers whose children died
because their states refused medicaid expansion. They’re ready to come together. We’ve met with homeless families whose encampments
in Aberdeen, Washington, and other places have been attacked by police and militia groups. They’re ready to come together. We’ve visited communities where there’s raw
sewage in people’s yards and nine year old children need CPAP machines to breath because
of the mold on their parent’s houses and they’re ready to come together. We’ve been welcomed into the area communities
of Appalachia and white people and indigenous families in urban African Americans and LatinX
have formed unlikely alliances. They are singing and protesting and organized
together and we are seeing something happen across this country. There’s a whole group of people that are saying,
we coming out the closet, we are tired of being on the margins. We’re tired of being ignored and we are no
longer going to be otherized. We refuse it and we believe that a movement
is happening and we can build it together. There’s a song that says, oh beautiful for
pilgrim feet who stern in passion stress a thoroughfare for freedoms be across the wilderness,
America, America, God and men that dine every flaws. We got some flaws to me and you all. There’s some stuff wrong in America and there’s
no way to mend the flaws of this nation and be one nation under God with liberty and justice
for all, unless the rejected people are at the center. I’ve heard a lot of people say, we’ve never
seen anything like this before. This Donald Trump, well, you don’t remember
Woodrow Wilson, you don’t remember a whole lot of other folk down through history, Nixon
and even before then who were just as racist and wrong as Trump. Before Breitbart was in the White House, birth
of a nation was played in the White House in 1914. We’ve seen this before and because we’ve seen
it before, we know what beats it. We know what overcomes it is when moral fusion
coalition, we come together discovering our common humanity. We link arms together and we refuse to be
denied. One of my favorite passages of scripture is
the one in Psalm 118 that says, the stone that the builders rejected can now become
the chief cornerstones. In other words, the scripture says, when God
wants to produce a revival, he goes to the rejected, and I bet you in this room, there
are some people here who’ve known rejection. Am I right about it? I need about 25 of you all to make your way
to the stage if you’re known rejection, some of you been rejected because of your sexuality. Come on up here. Some of you been rejected because of who you
love. Some of you been rejected because of how you
were born. Some of you been… Come on around the other side. Some of you have been rejected because of
your Palestinian ancestry. Some of you have been rejected because somebody
needed somebody to hate in order to try to feel good about themselves. Aren’t that some folk in this room who’ve
known rejection? You’ve been rejected because of your income. You’ve been rejected because of your faith. You’ve been rejected because of your race. Where are you? You’ve been rejected because of your lack
of faith. You’ve been rejected because somebody decided
in their own ugly ideology that they had a right to demean your humanity and you’ve been
rejected. But I want you to know in San Francisco at
4:45 PM I want you to know that tonight, the day, the stones that the builders rejected
are coming together to build a new cornerstone here in America. I want you to know that today when hands that
once pick cotton, join Latino hands and join progressive White hands and join faith hands
and join labor hands and join Asian hands and join Native American hands and join poor
hands and join wealthy hands with conscience and join gay hands and join straight hands. And join trans hands and join Christian hands
and Jewish hands and Muslim hands and Buddhas hands. When we all get together, when the rejected
join hands together, we can turn this nation around. We can turn this nation, we can alter the
course of history. Together we will make sure that hope not hate
has the last word. Together we will ensure that all of God’s
children are taken care of, together, together, we will make sure that nobody is invisible
in this world together. Can I preach for five minutes? I know the power of getting together because
when Moses and the people that had been rejected got together and Israel got together, Pharaoh
came down and the Red Sea had to open up. When Esther and her uncle Mordecai got together,
the rejected, they were able to stop the plot of a mean narcissistic leader in her day. When David was overlooked by Samuel but when
he and his slingshot got together with his faith, Goliath fell, and the next day the
San Francisco Chronicle read, the bigger they come, the harder they fall. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego got together,
went down in a fiery furnace, God blessed them and God brought them out of the fiery
furnace. The truth is, when we who are rejected have
come together, we’ve never lost. We might’ve been beaten, we might’ve been
broken, but justice has never lost. I didn’t say justice hadn’t gotten been fought
and justice hadn’t there been hurt, but it’s never lost. During slavery it looked like justice had
lost, but when Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and some white quicker and white
evangelicals got together, they formed a movement and brought about abolition. When women didn’t have the right to vote,
there was Sojourner Truth, a black woman and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and
Frederick Douglas. When they got together, women were on the
right to vote. Plessy versus Ferguson looked like it had
the victory. But when Thurgood Marshall got white lawyers
and black lawyer and Jewish lawyer and an all-white supreme court, one member, a former
member of the KKK, but when they got together, they had to vote nine to zero. That separate but equal was unconstitutional. It looked like Jim Crow had been beaten down
and justice couldn’t rise again. But when Rosa Parks and Martin King [inaudible
01:07:45] who was gay and Glen Smiley and Jonathan Daniels and a white woman named Viola
Woosah and so many others got together, they tore Jim Crow down. And 26 years ago when the doctor said, I would
never walk together because for 12 years I was on a walker and in a wheelchair. But when my feet got together and my doctors
got together and my pharmacy got together and my therapist got together and my family
got together and the prayer warriors got together [inaudible 01:08:19]. Because when we all get together, what a day,
what a day, what a day, what a day, what a day of justice it will be.

8 thoughts on “The Hope of America’s Possibility, with Rev. William J. Barber II | #OBConf2019

  1. 💟🌏🌍🌎Beautiful Bless Cleanliness Healthy Helps HEAVEN!‼️🏳️‍🌈🙏🏿😇🎨Fix’s Good And More!❗️🖤

  2. VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE ….For God's sake….VOTE

  3. I Love Her Ear Rings! Thank You Rev. William Barber For All You Do! I am With You GOD BLESS AND STAND STRONG!!!

  4. WORDS ARE IMPORTANT .!!!!!!! . BUT ACTION WITHOUT WORDS ? , IS USED LESS , LIVING .!!!!!!!! . WE HAVE THE POWER WITHIN OUR SELFS , TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE .!!!!!! . NOT TOMORROW , ( BUT NOW. ) .!!!'!!!!! .( THE PRESIDENT SPEND $1.6 MILLIONS ON A PARADE ON JULY 4 , 2019 ) . ( THINK ? ) . HOW THAT MONEY 💰 💰💰💰💰💰. COULD , HAD HELP THE POOR , NEEDED . !!!!! . IN THE USA 🇺🇸 .!!!!!! .📚📖📚👍❤️🚨🌴……😩😰😩🌴……

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