Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture | Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture | Rev. Dr. William J. Barber


– [Woman] This is Duke University. – Good evening and welcome to the 2018 Terry
Sanford Distinguished Lecture and Boyarsky Lecture in
Law, Medicine, and Ethics called Poverty, Health, and Social Justice with Reverend William J. Barber II. It takes a village to
bring in Reverend Barber. I’d like to acknowledge some of the folks who’ve been involved. I’m Dr. Jeff Baker,
director of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities,
and History of Medicine within the Duke School of Medicine. Our center brings together
faculty and associates interested in the insights provided by the medical humanities on
all aspects of healthcare especially the actual
practice of medicine research. Our mission includes teaching and exploring the questions of
bioethics and social justice within the broader matrix of medicine’s history in social context. Our event tonight is presented jointly by the Trent Center and the
Sanford School of Public Policy. The Sanford School has more
than 80 faculty members, multiple research centers, several master’s programs here and abroad, a PhD program in one of Duke’s
largest undergraduate majors. Our event is also co-sponsored by the Center for Child and Family Policy. POLIS, the Center for
Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service, and
Sanford’s Bridging Communities. The Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture is made possible by a
gift to the university from the William Kenan Charitable Trust in honor of the late Terry Sanford. Terry Sanford would’ve turned
100 years old in August and is a much beloved and respected figure in North Carolina. He dedicated his life to ethical
leadership and public life. During his tenure as
governor of North Carolina from 1961 to 1965, he focused on strengthening education, combating poverty, and
expanding civil rights. He supported desegregation when other governors were blocking African-American students from
entering university gates. In keeping with examples
set by Terry Sanford, the purpose of this distinguished lecture is to bring on campus men and women of the highest personal
and professional stature to speak to the Duke community. And tonight’s event is also
the 2018 Boyarsky lectureship in law, medicine, and ethics, created through a gift from
Dr. Saul and Rose Boyarsky to bring distinguished
lecturers to Duke University who can inspire achievement
in social justice and public health through science. We are delighted to welcome
them here this evening on this the UN’s World
Day of Social Justice, along with their children
and grandchildren who have come from far and
wide to join us tonight. And thanks to all of you, students, faculty, and
members of the community alike for coming to this very special event. Please silence your cell phones and note that we are
streaming this event live to a Sanford School of
Public Policy Facebook page. I’m going to return the microphone at the end of Reverend Barber’s talk to moderate an audience Q&A, but for now I would like
to welcome Kelly Brownell, the Dean of the Sanford
School of Public Policy and director of the Duke
World Food Policy Center to introduce our distinguished guest. (audience clapping) – Thank you, Jeff, and thank you to the
staff of the Trent Center for working together with
our most capable team at the Sanford School of Public Policy to present this special event. The Reverend Dr. William J Barber II is the president and senior lecturer of the non profit organization known as Repairers of the Breach. He is a minister, an
author, and a professor, above all he is an inspirational leader Reverend Dr. barber served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest chapter in the
south from 2006 to 2017. In this role, he started and led the Forward Together Moral Movement in which many people in
this room participated. The movement gained national notoriety with its Moral Monday protest at the North Carolina General Assembly. These protests drew tens
of thousands of residents and over the course of the campaign, police arrested more than 1200 protesters. In 2014, Reverend Barber
led the largest Moral March in the state’s history with
an estimated 80,000 people calling on North Carolina’s
elected officials to embrace a moral public policy agenda. inspired by events in North Carolina, grassroots Moral Movements grew
in a number of other states such as Georgia, Florida, and Missouri. Reverend Barber has been a
powerful and tireless advocate for voters rights, fair
legislative districts, healthcare reform, labor
and workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, reparation for women
survivors of eugenics, release of the Wilmington
Ten, and educational equality. In 2009, the Governor Beverly Perdue presented Reverend barber with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest
citizenship award, Some of his contributions
to the state include helping win same-day registration early voting in North Carolina, the only state in the South, helping secure passage of the
Racial Justice Act of 2009 to protect wrongly convicted
African-American men from death row. The North Carolina General Assembly subsequently repealed that act. Reverend Barber is pastor of
Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in
Goldsboro, North Carolina. He is a graduate of North
Carolina Central University, the Duke Divinity School, and Drew University Theological School where he earned a doctorate in ministry, Since stepping down from
his leadership of the NAACP, Reverend Barber became president of the Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the
Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for moral revival. We are honored and
humbled by the sheer power of tonight’s guest to
lead North Carolinians and now the country toward social justice and I can say there’s no warmer man that I believe I’ve ever met, please help me welcome the Reverend Dr. William J Barber II. (people clapping) ♪ Everybody’s got a right to live ♪ ♪ Everybody’s got a– ♪ – So, this feels like
the old mass meetings. We’re here in all of our diversity, we’re here in the human family. – There is a fire raging now for the poor of this society. They are living in tragic conditions because of the terrible
economic injustices that keep them locked in. – We have to deal with our war economy and systemic racism and systemic poverty and ecological devastation and finally we have to deal
with the moral narrative. This wall, this is sin
of the highest order. – We are traveling around this country building this Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for moral revival. What we wanna do now is hear a little bit from the local community who
are a part of this campaign. – I’ve spent five years, five
or so more years homeless. – Living on minimum wage has cause me to have to figure out on a daily basis how to afford basic necessities. – While the US sends trillions abroad, my friends, family, and fellow veterans suffer the economic
consequences of the war economy. – I have two children
and I enjoy raising them while acknowledging that being poor is a struggle of human rights, but when I lost my housing,
healthcare, and income all at the same time, I
was terrified, panicked. – I wanna stand here and reclaim the power and dignity of
the mujeres in my life. – I can’t afford to pay a cab. – It is one thing to know
that you didn’t have water and you couldn’t afford your water, it’s a whole ‘nother to find out that they shut off your entire community and none of you matter. – And in the aftermath of
climate change disasters, poor people and people of color are the ones to lose their homes. – Who can survive with 7.25? – No parent in America should
have to bury their child for a lack of Medicare especially. – Being poor is not a
sin, poverty is a sin. Being homeless is not a
sin, homelessness is a sin. (people cheering) – And we are here and it’s
time for us to be the remnant that can transform the nation. – We are calling for a
season of moral resistance, a season of organizing, a season of nonviolent,
massive civil disobedience. – There will be a movement that will break through the con and cut through the lies and bring people together to
save the heart and the soul of this democracy and this world ♪ Everybody’s got a right to live ♪ (people whistling) – Hello, home, hello, North Carolina. Forward together. – [Audience] Not one step back. – All right, it’s good to be here tonight. I’m so thankful to God and for his grace, I’ve been under the weather
with a bacterial infection and had to come off the road a bit, but I’m so thankful to be
here tonight with all of you. I see so many folk if
I start naming people, that’s going to be the next three hours, so I’m gonna do like we do
down south, what up y’all? If the light folk could help me on these lights a little
bit, I’m getting a shadow, but I’ll do the best I can tonight. I’m so thankful to this great family that has sponsored this
event, to the Trent Center, to the great legacy of Terry Sanford, to the School of Public Policy. It is such a humbling reality
to be invited to be here and to see all of you out on tonight. I want for a little while
tonight to talk about SOS. Saving Our Ship of State, the saving of our ship of state, and I want to suggest
that in order to do that, there are some things we
must first see clearly. There’s some organizing
we must do intentionally and then we must stand together. We must see clearly, we
must organize intentionally, and we must stand together. Since the rejection election of 2016 when in many ways white
rage propelled the candidate who was even endorsed by the KKK to the Republican National Convention and onto the White House, race has been ever before us in America, but our national conversation about racism has many times become confused in the post-Charlottesville debates in a struggle of whether
or not we define racism through the lens of personal biases or the lens of public policy. Now, make it be clear,
every politician in America condemned hate after Charlottesville or at least those who had
any kind of political savvy, but racism is not about hate alone. Did you hear Richard Spencer who spent some time here at Duke? The white supremacist. When he went back to
Charlottesville a few weeks ago, he said, “We came peacefully “and we will come peacefully again.” He said that when he endorsed the current occupier of the White House, it was after he heard his
positions on immigrants. Racism isn’t about whether
you have a black friend or even use the N-word, institutional racism is about
what’s written into policy. It’s about power. I would even go further to say it’s not so much about the statues as it is the statutes. For instance, my good
friend Dr. Tim Tyson and I have conversations
often and how in a rush, many of the people in the media and others got it wrong about the statues. They ran out and said these statues were put up to honor the Civil War. No, they weren’t, 90% of them weren’t. Robert E. Lee said he
wouldn’t even be buried in a Confederate uniform. In fact, if you had tried
to put those statues up immediately after the Civil War, you would’ve been locked up for treason. 90% of those statues were put up after Plessy versus Ferguson, between 1898, I represent
the black, and 1924. And in fact, the one in Charlottesville was commissioned in 1919. More to pay homage not to the Civil War, but to Woodrow Wilson’s election who was a white supremacist, who when he got into office, he immediately stopped the desegregation of the federal government and he had his entire staff
100 years before Bannon was ever in the White House
to watch Birth of a Nation, that was written by a playwright
from Shelby, North Carolina who used to be a member of
the North Carolina senate, and the book was called the Klansmen and it was turned into Birth of a Nation. So, that statue was commissioned in 1919 as white nationalists were saying, “We have control of the laws
again, the policy again,” could it be that that’s why they chose that statue to march around because in the mindset
of a white nationalist, it’s not about just
hate, it’s about policy. What is racism? Racism is what happened
after the Civil War. By 1868, black and white
people came together and they formed fusion
coalitions all over the south and they rewrote constitutions like the one here in North Carolina. They put this in the preamble, “We hold these truths to be self-evident “that all persons are created in equal, “endowed by the creator with
certain unalienable rights “among which are life, liberty, “the enjoyment of the
fruit of their own labor, “and the pursuit of happiness,” or our constitution, Article
11, Section 4, that says, “Beneficent provision to
the poor and the unfortunate “and the orphan is the first duty “of a civilized and a Christian nation.” That’s 1868 constitutional language being written by black and
white people coming together. They rewrote the voting laws and made sure that all,
at least men could vote. They rewrote laws about wages,
they provided healthcare. By 1877, you had 40
hospitals, free men hospital that were providing healthcare for blacks, former slaves, former freed
blacks, and poor whites, free! By 1872, you had the 13th
Amendment ending slavery, the 14th Amendment, equal
protection under the law, the 15th Amendment providing
protection for voting. Public education in
these fusion coalitions of black and white people coming together by 1868 was a public constitutional right. A constitutional right. Something we still do not have in our federal constitution to this day. What is racism? Racism is when 1872, the Klan was founded to scare white people and make them stop
working with black people. Racism is Governor Holden, the governor who led us
in the Reconstruction being impeached because he
dared to taken on the Klan and dared to push forward progressive. Racism is a group calling themselves the Redemption Movement, but
what they meant by redeeming was redeeming America from the sin of black and white
people working together. Racism is in 1877 a guy
running for president and losing the popular vote
and getting elected anyhow. In 1877. By the electoral college. And making a promise that if
the electoral college won, most of us can’t get into that college, but those who are in that college, if they would give him the presidency, he would give them the federal courts. He would pull the troops out of the south. They said yes, he said yes, he became president even though
he lost the popular vote. He turned the judiciary, attorney general’s office
over to the racist extremist and by 1883, the 1875 Civil
Rights Act was overturned with only one dissenter,
Justice Holland out of Kentucky. By 1896, you had Plessy versus Ferguson. By 1898, you had the Wilmington riot that were designed to
take back the government and put it in the proper
hands of the white man and by 1901, the last
elected black congressperson was put out of office, George
White from North Carolina, and it would be 90 years
before North Carolina had another African-American,
that’s racism. It’s about policy. What is racism? Racism is like what happened after the Civil Rights Movement when extremists who happened to be white were afraid of losing power, they learned how to perpetrate
the culture of racism without appearing to be racist. So, they used codewords and whistle words, the southern strategy is
the former name for it. It was a strategy deliberately designed to play the race card in a
way that didn’t sound racist, but it would make southern whites vote against black and brown people who should’ve been their natural allies. GOP strategist Lee Atwater
told us what it was like. He was on tape, but he kept talking, so the tape is out there. This is what he said,
“You start out in 1954 “and you wanna get elected, “you say things like
nigger, nigger, nigger, “but by 1968, you can’t say
that ’cause it’ll backfire, “so instead you talk about stuff “like states rights, forced busing, “and then you get real abstract “and you say the only thing
you wanna do is cut taxes. “And that doesn’t sound
racist to the untrained ear, “but it’s codeword because
it sounds like all the things “you’re talking about
are totally economic, “but the byproduct of them is that blacks “get hurt worse than whites,” and whites are taught, and
particularly in the south, to blame their problems
not on the oligarchy or the aristocracy, but
black and brown people who are getting quote unquote free stuff and using their tax dollars. The target of the southern strategy was initially the states
of the old confederacy with the goal of developing a solid south because the extremists knew
that if black and brown and white people ever formed
coalitions in the south, they could not win, they had
seen it before in the 1800s and so they said, “We’ll lock up “the 13 states in the south.” If you lock up the 13 states in the south, that’s 171 electoral votes before you ever have an election, you only need 270 to get elected which means if you can lock up 13 states, you only need 99 electoral
votes from the other 37 states. If you lock up 13 states, you can control 26 members
of the United States Senate which means you only need 25 from the other 37 states, you can control 31% of
the United States House, that means you only need 20% from the other 37 states
to hold a majority and if you do it right, you
can also win in the Rust Belt, you can win in the Wheat Belt and you can win in some
of the ethnic enclaves of the north. And they learn this by
watching as Wallace, George Wallace was called the
greatest loser of all time because he taught folk
that if you can find a way to use codewords to split people, you can get them to vote against
their own self-interests. So, if you know this history, the first thing we have to see is that the problem is not Trump. Don’t let anybody tell you right now, make you think a problem is that strong. Yes, he embraced and
embolden white nationalists and this southern strategy that was designed to last 50 years and this is the 50th
year by the way, 2018, but long before Trump mastered the con of the southern strategy, he had an audience that had
been cultivated for 50 years and many other people that
have been using this strategy, we are seeing right now
what Nell Painter calls the iconography of an
American call-and-response, the call is racial progress and the simultaneously
or short thereafter, the response is as Carol Anderson has aptly named regression or white rage. Trump and those that support
him in policy driven racism are symptoms, are symptoms
of a deeper moral malady and we must see this and
we, not just black people, but all of us must see this. We misunderstand the
challenge of systemic racism if we think is just about
dislike of black people. No, systemic racism is
dislike of democracy, truth be told, you can
be black and embrace and encourage white nationalism. You can be black and be
so fooled by the system that you end up
participating in the system and become a cheerleader if you will for the very proponents
of institutional racism. Systemic racism is simply the perpetuation of a system where the ideal
of whiteness and white power are the norm in our common life and it must be challenged
by blacks and whites and Jews and Christians together, it is to accept the
heresy that some people were not made in the
image or likeness of God, therefore you can write them
out of your public policy. Now, to see this up close, let’s look at a particular
instance of racism and white supremacy which
is voter suppression. Before Trump, since the US Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, there has been an assault on voting rights in this country. Actually, it began long
before that in 2010. Let me give you some numbers. I know everybody talking about Russia, but here is the most unreported story and by underreporting it
and not dealing with it, America is once again making a mistake and not dealing with this issue of racism, would rather deal with Russia, should, but there were 868 fewer voting sites in the black and brown and
poor community in 2016. 22, that’s the number of states that have passed voter
suppression laws since 2010. 22 states, that’s 44 senators and 50% of the United States
House of Representatives come from states that have engaged in proven voter suppression more than four years or nearly 2000 days, that’s how long it’s been
since the Supreme Court gutted section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Now, I want you to put that
in context Strom Thurmond was a sure enough racist. He only filibustered the
1957 Civil Rights Act for 24 hours. Ryan and McConnell and Boehner have participated in filibuster and fixing the Voting Rights
Act for nearly 2000 days. We talked about a person winning. Trump for instance is winning
by 20,000 votes in Wisconsin. There were 250,000 votes
suppressed in Wisconsin. We won in North Carolina, We beat back Tom Farr,
the white supremacist and yet in 2016 in North Carolina, we had over 150 fewer
sites doing early voting, this is the election hacking
that no one wants to talk about because it would force us to deal with systemic racism in America, not whether or not someone
has a black friend, that’s not even an issue. Tim Scott whose back is
against the restoration of the Voting Rights Act, so he is an enabler of white nationalism and white supremacy and he’s black. I don’t know how much
Trump got help from Russia, but it’s manifestly
clear that he could not have stolen the election without the help of systemic racism. Whether the tactics are
partisan gerrymandering, a discriminatory voter ID, the rollback of early voting
same-day registration, the place and the places
where we see the attack, we wouldn’t have the Senate we have today or the Congress we have today or the General Assembly that we have today without voter suppression. We’re not talking about
something we have heard, we’re talking about that
even this Supreme Court, the Robert Supreme Court, even Clarence Thomas had to
vote unanimously on the case we said and agree that what
happened in North Carolina that began under the
leadership of Thom Tillis was surgical racism. Now, watch this, you say, “Well, I thought he was gonna “talk about health and poverty,” I’m getting there, (audience laughing) but the problem is so many neoliberals want to talk about poverty
without dealing with race and you can’t do that, you can’t do that. Because here’s the trick and the hook that you must understand
if you put up a map the same places where we see the attacks on voting rights the most are the same places that have
the highest level of poverty, the highest level of the
lack of living wages, the most attacks against healthcare, the greatest attacks on
immigrants and the LGBT community, that the states that have the lowest funding of public education and the lowest labor
rights and union density are all the same states where politicians have engaged in voter suppression. Now, what does that mean? Politicians who use surgical and targeted racist voter suppression, then when they get use it to get in power, but once they get into power, they promote and codify
policies that hurt all Americans especially poor and
working-class white people. So, the very people that use gimmicks to fool certain people to vote for them, once they get into office,
they pass policies. For instance, we have a General Assembly that use voter suppression
to get into office, once they got into office, in the first 15 days or so
of being in office in 2013, they denied Medicaid
expansion to 500,000 people. Now, if you heard them talk about it and understood the codewords
they were kind of suggesting, we don’t need to give healthcare
to these quote lazy folk who aren’t doing something or
i.e black and brown people. Well, in actuality, 346,000
of the 500,000 people denied Medicaid expansion are white. And 30,000 are veterans. So, they got elected
through voter suppression and racist gerrymandering, but then used the power to hurt poor people and sick people, many have not wanted to look
at this, but we must see this if we’re gonna save our ship of state. There’s the second thing we must see and that is we must see the
heretical work of so-called Christian nationalists
and white evangelicals. You gotta see it. Now, many of Donald Trump’s critics have raised concerns in recent weeks about his alleged affair
with porn star Stormy Daniels and if the revelations are true, Trump’s infidelity is a matter between him, his god, and his spouse. Quickly, but interestingly
so-called white evangelicals rushed to defend the president, urging the nation to forgive and move on, all these things were years ago. Jerry Falwell said Tony
Perkins told POLITICO, he and others were willing
to give the president a mulligan on issues of personal morality because he trot champions
and evangelical agenda. Now, it’s easy to point
out the hypocrisy of men who have cried so loudly about character in public leadership only to defend a man who spent his life flaunting
conventional morality, but the truth is, can I drop
this little truth in here? America has had to give
every president a mulligan on some personal failing or another. If Trump’s pastoral advisors
want to forgive him, that’s their right because infidelity normally
has its own consequences, but the great moral issue here and what is heretical
is that of this faith, they’re trying to push
in the public square is when they use religion
to cover up his immoral and pornographic policies. Which are hurting vulnerable people and undermining our democracy. One of the great Jewish prophets
said in Ezekiel 22 said, “Your politicians have become like wolves “devouring the poor and
hurting the immigrants, “but there is a worse sin “the preachers are covering
up for the politician “and claiming to say things
that God has not said,” and so in the end matters
of public justice, no one has a right to give
the president a mulligan, you want to on personal thing, that’s you, but when it comes to public policy especially in this nation, for our nation’s theological leaders who should be the torchbearers
of public morality not the enablers of ethical decay. Unfortunately, what we are
seeing now is the revival of a specific and subversive
strand of Christianity, one with a historic legacy stretching all the way back to
slavery which is heresy. The infidelity, oh,
they shouldn’t taught me the bible at Duke Theological Seminary, the infidelity that we
must concern ourselves with is what the bible calls going
or whoring after other gods, or whoring after other gods is whenever a nation
chooses to hurt the poor and oppress the stranger
and mistreat the weak and keep the sick sick
and corrupt the courts, the biblical prophets accused the political leader of public infidelity. Unlike in marriage such
adultery is not a private matter and it must be challenged
in the public square. The problem is too many preachers are willing to overlook
the policy failings in exchange for access to power and they have said things
like Jesus teachings are about private morality
and not public policy. Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself, but never told Caesar how to run Rome. Well, that’s just not true. Jesus’s first sermon said, “I’ve come to preach
good news to the poor,” and the Greek word for
poor there is ptochos which means the poor
who have been made poor by economic exploitation and imperialism. That was his first sermon. In his last sermon, Jesus
says that every nation in the final analysis
and the final judgment, every nation will be judged and will have to give an account for how they treated the vulnerable among us in public policy and Jesus;s good friend
that he often quoted from Isaiah said that woe unto those who legislate evil and robbed
the poor of their rights and make women and children their prey. It is hard to imagine
someone who proclaimed the kingdom of God in the first century not to have a clear vision
about transforming society. It’s hard to imagine that
unless your whole faith has been built upon the
justification of systemic evil. Now, this kind of reading of
the biblical text is not new and we need to see it for what it is because it’s being used to confuse the minds of so many people. This brand was passed down by generations of so-called Christians who
learned to read the Bible in the 19th century as a
text that did not condemn, but rather affirmed
race-based chattel slavery and public policy that legalized it, that’s why Frederick Douglass once said “Between the Christianity
of the slaveholder “and the Christianity of Christ, “I see the widest possible difference.” The widest possible difference. Preston historian Kevin
Cruz has documented how public religiosity that
wraps itself in the flag while doing the bidding of big business is a purchase product. He said it was purchased
in his book of research by the US Chamber of Commerce on Oil beginning in the 1930s when
they funded organizations like the spiritual mobilization group that paid preachers to preach
a twisted form of Calvinism to take on the social gospel of people like Rauschenbusch and later Dr. King, and this perverted form of
Calvinism went like this. If you’re good, you go to heaven. If you’re bad, you go to hell. So, if you’re a good
American, you won’t be poor, and if you’re bad American, you’re poor, so therefore you don’t
need Social Security, you don’t need living wages, people just need to live
according to certain precepts and it was purchased. In fact by 1940, the leader of it had bought 19,000 pulpits. It was a 20th century
of slaveholder religion that the plantation
owners had paid preachers to defend slavery in the 19th century and it’s still with us today. When Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham who got $10 million from somewhere to go all around the
country during the election encouraging people to vote a certain way and then had the nerve
to say that the election of the current occupant of the
White House was God’s will. Robert Jeffress, Franklin
Graham, Jerry Falwell, and all those who go in and
pray, P-R-A-Y, for a president while that president and
the legislators are preying, P-R-E-Y-I-N-G, on the least of these. We cannot understand
some of what’s going on without understanding this heretical form of Christian nationalism
that tries to limit the moral discussion to
being against gay people and against prayer in the school and against abortion and for gun rights and for tax welfare to the wealthy, this is what now some are
calling Trump evangelicals and they are not forsaken
their God to defend Trump, they are showing us that their
God is cash and not Christ. And for Trump’s personal failings, he needs personal professional counseling, but for his mean and vulgar use of power he and his allies, it’s not
just him, he and his allies, he can’t write a law, he and
his allies in the Congress need public critique and moral resistance. No matter how high the
Dow Jones average is, it can never be high enough to be a sufficient payoff
for us to keep quiet in the face of such moral inconsistency. We must see this. Now, if we’re gonna
save our ship of state, we must as I said see
this systemic racism. We must see how this
heretical form of morality is being used to confuse the public square and then if we see that, then we must see what kind
of politics and policies you get when you mix this
kind of systemic racism with classism and with
the distorted moral view. What do you get? You get us having fewer
voting rights today than the people had 53
years ago on August 6, 1955 because issues are seen
as left versus right not as right versus wrong. What do you get? You get 25 states that have passed laws that preempts cities from passing their own local minimum wage laws. What do you get? You get the criminalization of poverty that has raised federal
spending on prisons tenfold to $7.5 billion a year and led to increased
policing to fill them. Nearly five million people. In 1968, wasn’t but 180,000 in jail, now nearly five million people. We got two million more
people in prison than China and China has a billion and
a half more people than us, that’s what happens
with racism and classism and a false moral narrative
are woven together and people use it from which
to shape public policy, What do you get? Federal spending on
immigration deportation and the border has gone
from two billion in 1976 to 17 billion in 2015 with 10 times as many deportations. 333,000 in 2015 according to our report, The Souls of Poor Folk,
an audit being done by the Institute for Public Policy Studies and the Urban Institute that Dr. Tyson and Dr. Forbes
and others are working on. What do you get? As of 2016 there are 40 million people living below the poverty line. This is an income based measure
that is limited to $11,880, $11,880 for a single person. In other words, if you make $11,881, you are not poor as a single person. $24,300 for a family of four which means if you make $24,301 according to the statistics,
you are not a poor person and therefore for 40 million
people living below poverty, this means there’s been a 60% rise in the number of poor people since 1968, not because the programs
of the war on poverty fail, but because the programs
of the war on poverty were undermined. There are 95 million people who are either poor or low-income, living under twice the
federal poverty line and that number rises
to 140 million people. 43.5% of the population when using the supplemental
poverty measures and when you have this
mix of racism and classism and a heretical morality, you get people saying things like, “Well, poor people are just on a vacation, “on a glorified vacation.” 16 million of the 40
million people are women, 13 million are children, three-quarters of the people
living below the poverty line are women and children. The codewords of racism have called us to racialized poverty, but the reality is while 8.8% of white people are
poor, below the poverty line, that’s 17.3 million people which is eight million more than black, so that eight million
more poor white people than there are black in raw numbers. In raw numbers. In raw numbers. What kind of policies do you get? You get that from 1968 to 2017, the top 1% share of the
economy has doubled. In 2017, three individuals had a combined wealth of $248 billion, the same amount of wealth as the entire bottom 50% of US households and Joseph Stiglitz when I talk with him, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said we can’t keep ignoring
the cost of inequality because 250,000 people
according to the study by the Mailman School of Public Health die every year from low-income. They don’t die because
it’s their time to die, they don’t die because the
divine has called them home, they die because of low wealth. We came to be the leader of the free world and yet the US pays half of
its African American workers and 60% of Latino workers
less than $15 an hour while we give bailouts
to corporate crooks. In the south where politicians still pit white workers
against workers of color, 50% of all workers in the south
make less than $15 an hour. There are 400 families
that make an average of $97,000 an hour and we lock people up who
simply marched for 15. When it comes to healthcare, even with the Affordable Care Act, 37 million people are still insured and now with the rolling
back more uninsured, more premiums are going up, and you think about that
people will run for office when you mix racism and classism and a distorted moral narrative, people will run for office,
look you in your face, and say, “Elect me and I’ll take your healthcare.” No, no, no, worse than that, “Elect me, I’ll let you pay
for my healthcare for free “and take yours.” In other words, “Elect me
and I’ll accept healthcare “that I only get because I got elected, “but I’ll make sure that
you don’t get what I get “even though you elected me.” And people buy it because they believe they’re
talking about other folk until the reality hits in
western North Carolina, in West Virginia, and other areas. When it comes to the health of the planet between 1970 to 1979, meteorologists recorded 600
disasters around the world, but between 2000-2009, there were 3,322. Climate scientists
testifying before Congress have explained to the public that two centuries of
fossil fuel extractions have not only built a global economy but have released enough
carbon in the atmosphere that the planet to have a fever. Today, the earth fever is raging and the symptoms of rising
floods and waters and droughts and poor people suffer the most and get the sickest the
most from climate change. In addition to climate change
when we talk about health, poor people can buy unleaded gas, but can’t buy unleaded water. Multinational corporations
are drilling for gas, penetrating the aquifers
on the Apache lands. I was recently out with the
Apache nation in Arizona. Do you know to this day
that the First Nation people can’t even own their own
homes, own reservations, today. I was there at the burial
and I went to the cliff where 120 Apache warriors
rather than being captured chose to jump off the cliff. I was there in the
place and sang the songs and cried with them, the songs of memory, and you could feel the spirit of those who were put in this valley
on this piece of land. The Apaches were mountain people, but they were forced into this valley and then one night while
they were in the valley, the troops opened up
the river to drown them and now they’re digging on
a place called Oak Flats. They’re drilling down in the earth, so-called looking for copper and only about two or 3% of
what they get is worth anything, but the rest of it poisons the aquifers and the people that started doing it, they thought that if you drill on the First Nation Apache land, if you drilled, well, it’s not the land, it’s the reservation, if you drill there, then somehow the poison was
going to stay on their land, only to find out that aquifers
mean water and water travels and so now the white community
right down the street is where it is now because
they’re going to be poisoned and many of them are upset because they voted for the
people like John McCain who approved a multinational
company to come in and do this. The love of money is the root of all evil. Pope Francis called it calls home, our common home has been reduced he said to a resource at best and when I was at the Vatican
lecturing this past year at the invitation of the
Pope about other leaders, one of the things he said
to us in his letter was, he said that when we refused to address the issues of racism and poverty, we abdicate our responsibility to be the hands and the
feet of God in the earth. Then the war economy and
how war is often perpetrated toward black and brown
citizens of the world. In Vietnam military
spending was 354 billion, today, it’s 635 billion, 53 cents out of every
discretionary dollar of our taxes goes directly to military and then we create these military weapons and they end up getting
sold on our streets and you can get an assault weapon easier than you can get a fishing license and our children end up dead and we can’t break some politicians from their vampire-like bloodthirst, end up with the NRA for money. If you look at the money, if you just took a portion of the money, we can still blow the world up 50 times, that’s the sad thing about it. It’s not that somehow we
gonna have a weak military, you can blow to earth up 10, 15 times, that seems to be quite
a bit, quite enough. If you just took a portion
of that military money, the same money could provide healthcare for 178 million low-income people. It could create more than 11 million green jobs and union jobs. It could give seven
million poor kids Headstart and 442 million household
solar electricity. It’s not the money that we don’t have, it’s the moral will and the capacity to do right with what we have. And those who claim they
love the military so much, now say they want to give poor people their food stamp in boxes, boxes of starches and canned food. At least when Jesus gave people food, he gave him fresh fish and bread, he didn’t put in the box, they want to take us back
to the Ghost of Days Past, back to Charles Dickens day, back to the poor houses I guess, but the problem with that is we give banks that abuse the system bailouts of cash and then wanna give
poor folk boxes of food, it’s just wrong, but they claim they
care about the military. Well, 23,000 active duty military troops receive food stamps. 24% of children and schools run by the Department
of Defense inside the US qualify for free meals and another 21% qualify
for reduced-price meals. We have to see this. When you deal with race and
class and I’m distorted morale, what kind of policy does it create? It creates a policy where
four million families with children are being
exposed to high levels of lead. It creates the kind of public policy that the populations within three miles of highly contaminated Superfund sites, 45% of them are non-white, 45%, even though the majority
near these Superfund sites are still white in raw numbers, and so if we see this, then that means we need
to understand why now, we need to organize intentionally. We gonna save our ship of
state, we gotta see right, but then we’ve got to
organize intentionally. Long before Dr. King,
a bullet took his life, Dr. King, Rabbi Herschel, and others saw their systemic policy violence threatened the soul of this nation through interlocking issues of injustice. In 1967-68, he paired this diagnosis and called it the Poor People’s Campaign. He said America’s spiritual
sickness was terminal and insisted that unless we experienced a radical revolution of
values such a moral revival, he knew could not simply
be spoken into existence, it had to be lived into existence. The poor people who were often blamed and pitted against one another would have to unite in a national
campaign of direct action to save the souls of America and others would have to
come alongside of them. 50 years later, Dr.
King’s life and witness can help us name America’s
spiritual sickness and see that the only hope is a brand new time of fusion politics. We face a national crisis
not unlike in some ways to storm that rocked America in 68, but too often attempts
to diagnose what ails us cannot get beyond the tired debates of left versus right and
Democrat versus Republican, that is why we need a
Poor People’s Campaign, a national call to moral
revival more than ever because there are five
interlocking injustices, five bacteria if you will,
five diseases that threaten democracy of the United
States simultaneously, systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the
war economy and militarism, and the distorted moral view
of Christian nationalism. As a preacher I would like the hope that this crisis would
compel Americans to cry out to whatever source of
divinity they know for help, but far too much of our
religion in our public life has contributed to the
moral crisis we now face. We suffer from a civil religion that has justified our social sin and so America has a moral malady and sometimes it tempts us to disband, but it also then can bring
us in the darkest moments to the reality that we
must have a moral movement, that there’s only one way out. We’ve got to link up with others who are directly impacted by
the interlocking injustices. We cannot deal with these separately. Black people can’t get over
here and deal with racism, white people over here with poverty and environmentalist over here. No, we have to find a
way to connect together in a deeply moral way
with a deeply progressive and prophetic agenda and
refuse to be divided by the few who seem to benefit from a
system that hurts us all. America I believe is right in the middle and the possibility of
a third reconstruction and at this moment, this
moment like this must remind us of the one truth that is at the heart of the tradition of resistance, that goes all the way back
to the great psalmist. Find it in Psalm 118. The stones that the builders rejected can become the chief cornerstone. In other words, what we need now is the work of the rejected
stones to lead a revival, those who’ve been rejected through racism, rejected through classism and
rejected through homophobia, rejected because of poverty, rejected because of militarism, rejected, that fusion coalition must come together and we must assert our moral
authority as children of God believing that we can shift
the nation’s narrative. We must know this that when
a budget director goes on TV and puts a ash cross on his
forehead on Ash Wednesday and then proposes to cut Medicare and cut seven million people
from heating assistance and cut people’s food stamps, we don’t have merely a
democrat or republican problem we have a moral problem and we need a Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for moral revival. When leaders of both party will celebrate a budget compromise and one side will say we
did it for the military and the other side says we
did it for the middle class and nobody says what
was done for the poor, the 140 something million people. We need a moral revival and
a Poor People’s Campaign. When we are 53 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act and we have the tax on voting rights like we haven’t seen since Jim Crow, when people are more interested
in protecting the NRA than funding our schools, when we refuse to stop the
selling of assault rifles, but we cut healthcare and
want to ban DACA students, when we destroy the environment, when we want to fund the war machine and fund a racist border wall, but we defend defunding poverty programs and refuse to pay people a
living wage and protect unions, when you have preachers
claiming to be representing God, they’re so loud when it comes
to being against gay people and abortion and prayer for the schools and loud on supporting
tax cuts for the wealthy with tax cut welfare for
the rich and the greedy at the tunes of trillions of dollars, the amount of dollars we
haven’t seen transferred on the backs of poor people
since the time of slavery, and when they claim
Trump is the will of God and they say nothing
about racism and poverty and stopping the sale of assault guns, we must have a movement
that challenges this heresy and names this hypocrisy
and refuses to stand down. And this must be a
movement rooted in love. It can’t be just a movement about hate and what we’re against
or hating individual, it must be a movement
rooted in love and truth. It must be a movement
where we hate the policies, but we almost have a deep
pity for the powerful that will use their power to hurt people because I tell you the
other day I was thinking as I was reading through
some Howard Thurman, something is wrong in the hearts of people when they gain power and then they use that
power to inflict pain on the poor and the vulnerable. How much do you have
to dehumanize yourself in order to dehumanize other people? That is the question before America. Rabbi Herschel told America in 1960, in fact, he said it to John Kennedy. He said, “Mr. president, this
nation forfeits the right “to even worship God when
you’re on the wrong side “of justice and racial equality.” Howard Thurman once said
that we rupture the unity between us and God when
we are not concerned about the dispossessed. Just this week Marian Wright Edelman who was a leader in the
Poor People’s Campaign wrote in an article, she said, “When are we going to protect “the children and not the guns?” These are the kinds of moral question. We need a Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for a moral revival that will demand full restoration
of the Voting Rights Act and will demand automatic
registration at 18. If you can be registered
to go to war at 18, you ought to be automatically registered, that will demand an open democracy that provides more than one day to vote all across the country, that demands a living wage, that demands universal
healthcare for everybody and we stop this ungodly
voting on children’s healthcare every five, 10 years. It ought to be a divine
right in this democracy. That demands guaranteed
income for the poor and the weak among us, that demands we not fund and continue to fund war and militarism, that demands that we take care
of our ecological systems, that demands that we change, that demands that we
thought we asked ourselves, can America really be America? Can we live up to the deep
religious values we claim? Can we live up to the moral claims saying that there is
no freedom worth having unless that freedom engages in making sure that we have the establishment of justice and the providing of the common defense and the promoting of the general welfare? There’s no freedom worth having that does not have these things and so we need people who will stand up and join this movement whether
we believe in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, all the
other great traditions, or no religion at all,
we need to stand up. We don’t need another
tweet, another email, we need some people who are
willing to stand with the poor and not because this
is the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. King because you don’t
commemorate an assassination, you don’t celebrate an assassination, the only way you can
pay homage to a prophet or prophets that have been assassinated is you have to reach down in
the blood where they fail, pick up the baton and carry
out the next leg of the way. 50 years later, we must
deal with systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, of war economy, militarism,
and this distorted national, it requires a moral revival and a moral revolution of values and that’s why as I close, we are now organizing 1,000 people. Dr. King called them emergency drivers. Dr. KIng said that in the
normal course of time, you have to stop at a
stop sign or a stoplight. He said but when there’s a crisis, the ambulance can run the stoplight because somebody’s hurt, somebody’s sick. The nation’s health is at risk, we need ambulance drivers now and we’re organizing 1,000
of them in 32 states, 2000 in District of Columbia for 40 days of direct action, civil disobedience, voter mobilization, and power
building among the poor. 40 days starting on Mother’s Day, birth, ending on June 21st, the summer solstice, the birthing light, and on the 23rd, a massive
poverty march and a rally not just to March, but
to give an action call that we leave and we go back
and organize and build deeply because change doesn’t happen
from Washington DC down, it happens from Montgomery,
Birmingham, Greensboro, and up. And I tell you, we’ve been traveling from Appalachia to Alabama, from California to South Carolina, from North Carolina to New Mexico, and I’ve met some people. I met a white girl over
in Seattle, Washington, has the highest density
of poor white folk. She was homeless and poor in
Seattle, Seattle, Washington. She came to one of our mass meetings and she stood up and testified. She said, “I want America
to know that I am a redneck “and I’m the white trash
that America threw out “and forgot to burn “and I’m joining the
Poor People’s Campaign, “a national call for moral revival,” not only that we went down to Alabama and there’s a mother there
whose daughter died in her arms because Alabama would not expand Medicaid and she said the only way she can live is to fight for other
daughters not to die. She’s in the Poor People’s Campaign. We’re headed out to West Virginia and Kentucky in the Appalachia and their people are organizing all over. We were in Compton and watch black people and white people and Latinos
come together in Compton to say we’re organizing. Over in central California, organizing, Up in Wisconsin, we’re organizing. I was there in New Mexico. One night we had a mass meeting and a Pueblo spiritualist
and a Jewish rabbi and a preacher and a Congregationalist and somebody else got to
shouting onstage together, all of ’em just like Pentecost, like they were speaking
in tongues together and signing up for the
Poor People’s Campaign. You can sign up tonight. Just go to repairersofthebreach.org. You can sign up tonight
and clergy are coming, United Church of Christ,
Unitarian, Methodist, Presbyterian, rabbis,
Muslims are coming together not to do it for the poor
because that’s paternalistic, but with the poor, but we’re coming conspicuously and we’re talking about
being in 25 state capitals all at the same time, and in Ryan and McConnell’s
office all at the same time, and we’re not going to the safe spots where they tell us we can protest. We’re claiming back the people’s houses all over this nation and in Washington DC. We’re going to demand
an aspirational agenda. We’re going to demand the kind of goals that can set America free, demand it from the Democrats
and the Republicans. We demanded that it’s time
for all folk to step up and if they arrest us, they’re
gonna have to arrest us linking arms with poor people and they’re gonna have to arrest us in full ministerial attire, but they’re gonna have
to arrest us if they do because we are going to arrest the attention of this nation and change the narrative. We cannot have another
presidential election or another midyear like
the one we had in 2016 where we had 26 presidential
debates in the primary and in the general election and not one hour on poverty, not one hour on systemic racism, not one hour or ecological devastation, not one hour on the war economy We talk more about tweets and innuendos than we did the things
that are hurting people and hurting real lives and the political structure
can’t change it alone, there must be a moral revival and a moral revolution of value. We need a political Pentecost. We need a political Pentecost where black and white and brown and Jew and Christian and Muslim and gay and straight and young and old learn how to speak with new tongues and how to act with new power
and refuse to be denied, and we go in and we
force CNN and and MSNBC and the New York Times to change whatever the tweeter
was trying to get them to talk about that day because we come together and we call those 140 million people who never hear their name poor called. We call them and recognize that that’s a great army of hope. It’s a great army a possibility when we all come together and so I close tonight
not with my own words, but with the words that come from the great Jewish prophet Amos. 2600 years ago, he wrote this
and it sounds as contemporary as it was probably when
it was first heard, it actually gives us our order. Some people say, “Well, are
you all getting your cues “from the Poor People’s Campaign?” Yes, but we’re also getting it from the abolition movement. We’re also getting it from
the Reconstruction Movement. There are a lot of streams, the stream of resistance
is in no one place or among no one people and every age has always
had to be moral dissenters. There’s always had to be somebody that will engage in moral analysis and moral articulation and moral activism, it’s just our time. Don’t you let anybody tell you this is the worst we’ve ever seen, that’s an insult to the slaves, that’s an insult to the
survivors of the Holocaust, that’s an insult to the women who had to fight for women’s suffrage, that’s an insult to those
that went through Jim Crow, that’s an insult to Cesar Chavez and the early Mexican
people in their fight, that’s an insult to say this is the worst, this is not the worst we’ve ever seen. It’s bad, but it ain’t the worst. I told somebody other
day if Harriet Tubman could get 500 slaves out of slavery and she didn’t have she
didn’t have Twitter, she didn’t have tweet, she
didn’t have a cell phone, she didn’t have a computer, all she had was moss on
the north side of the tree, a made up mind, a 38 in her pocket in case somebody wanted
to go back to slavery. She would send them to heaven and let them be free up there, but anyway, this is not the worst we’ve seen, but we’ve seen it and if we see it, we have to organize in it and then lastly, we gotta stand together
because it’s our time and so Amos said it like
this in the fifth chapter. Listen to this and I’m
through Amos said, listen, “People hate this kind of talk “because raw truth is never popular, “but here it is bluntly spoken,” this is verse 12 and 13, “because as a nation you
run roughshod over the poor “and because you take bread
right out of their mouths, “I want to tell you as a nation, “you will never move into “your luxurious homes that you’ve built “and you’re never going to drink in peace “the wine at Mar Lago,” I mean, the wine. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the
wine, let me read the text like it says, “the wine from the expensive
vineyards you’ve planted. “I know precisely the extent
of your violations as a nation. “I know the enormity of your sins “and it is appalling. “You the leaders of that time, “you bully right living people, “you take bribes right and left “and you kick the poor when they’re down. “Some people began to think
that justice is a lost cause “and evil is epidemic “and decent people are
throwing up their hands “and some of them even said
that protest and rebuke “are useless and a waste of breath,” but verse 14, but I need somebody. I need a group of people that will see good and not evil and live. I need a group of people
that will say to the nation, you keep talking about God
bless you, God loves you, well, act like it and the
way a nation acts like it is verse 15, you hate
evil and you love good and then you work it out in public policy and then maybe God will notice you. Verse 16, it says, “Now, I need a remnant because this nation “is not going to do right on
its own, so I need a remnant.” Maybe I need 1,000 people in 25 states and 2,000 in Washington DC. I need a remnant that will go out and cry loudly and refuse to
shut up until change comes. I need a remnant that
will fill up the malls and the shops and warn the nation that it can’t be who she claims to be until she does right by the poor. I need a group of people that will say not me, not us, not now. I need a group of people
that were empty the offices, empty the stores, this is in the bible, empty the factories, empty the workplaces, and enlist everybody in a general lament until you make the nation hear and God says I want to
hear you in the streets crying so loud over what’s so wrong and if you do, then I will make my visit. Could it be that God the divine spirit is simply waiting on us to
get in the street and cry and then if we do, that
divine spirit will help us change the soul and save
the heart of this democracy. I’m told enough now that I wanna try and see what God will do. It’s time to save our ship of state. We gotta see what’s wrong. We’ve gotta organize and
we must stand together and launch this Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for moral revival and dare to shift the narrative and declare to history that has yet been and the future that is yet to come in our time with the few
breaths of life that we had and a few years in this earth,
we chose not to be silent, we chose not to be content, we chose to cry loud and to change the heart of this nation. God bless you. (audience cheering) – As a doctor, I know that
Reverend Barber has been, his body has been through a lot lately and I would like thank
him for all the energy he shared with us and give him formal
permission to take a rest. And as a historian, I wanna thank him for reminding us that our story is part of a much bigger story. He reminded us of the story of the 1890s, of the fusionist movement
that seemed to bring hope to bring poor whites
and blacks together, how it collapsed in the 1890s, climaxing with the Wilmington Race Riot, but remember in Durham, part of our story is that just two years after that, a black physician, Dr. Aaron Moore worked with a formerly
very poor white farmer, Washington Duke, and
built Lincoln Hospital. Out of the chaos of that
decay, there was hope. He left. Anyway, I wanted to
thank him for his words, for sharing his historical perspective, for sharing his faith, and I would like to encourage all of you to join in his future work. Thank you so much, thank
you, Reverend Barber.

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