Rev. Barber: America Needs A Moral Movement
Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
This was a landmark year for building a national moral movement in the United States, both in terms of the challenges we faced and the victories we achieved.
In our travels to more than 32 states, we bore personal witness to the extreme poverty and systemic inequality that plague the world’s wealthiest democracy.
At the US/Mexico border, I waded into the Rio Grande with Maria, a grandmother who has been separated from her husband and children by US policy. We were up to our knees in water, but Maria’s tears re-baptized me as she held the children she bore and raised for five precious minutes in the middle of a river.
I remembered the words of James Baldwin: “we made the world we are living in and only we can make it again.”
Preaching at Riverside Church in April on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s sermon against the Vietnam War, I reflected on the continued resonance of his prophetic plea for a “revolution of values” in the United States, and celebrated the resurgence of “a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life” that sanctifies moral resistance and refuses to be silent anymore.
From Anchorage to Alabama — from Detroit to Skid Row — we’ve witnessed the courage of directly impacted people, who are determined to become the nation we’ve not yet been. We walked side by side with women who lost their children for lack of healthcare and still demand access for everyone else, men who lost their jobs to a profit-mad economy and still defend the God-given right to meaningful work, and children who lost their innocence to gun violence and still dream of a society that defends the public good.
It was the courage and conviction of these moral leaders that led Repairers, the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary and hundreds of other organizations and individuals to launch on December 4 of this year the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
Using many of the same strategies pioneered in our Moral Mondays movement, the Campaign seeks to catalyze similar state-based moral movements across the nation. Its overarching aim is to call on clergy, lay people and all people of conscience to join together to put a human face on poverty in this country, reawaken America to its higher moral purpose and build steadfast unity in defense of our most cherished Constitutional and moral traditions.
For 2018, along with Repairers’ ongoing education and training, conscious cultural engagement, moral public policy research, and state-based organizing programs, we hope you will join us and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in 40 consecutive days of prophetic direct action in 25 states and the District of Columbia from Mothers’ Day to the Summer Solstice, a journey from birth to light.
You already stand with us in the Breach that has opened in this country between nation and citizen, government and governed, institutionalized religion and people of faith. Will you stay with us until we Repair the damage done?
Please consider joining us for a special Gathering Watch Night Service this New Year’s Eve, which we are hosting in partnership with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is co-author of The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear (Beacon Press). He is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement, president of the North Carolina NAACP, and pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro. He is also president of Repairers of the Breach.