Hunched over the pulpit of the Washington National Cathedral on June 14, 2020, the Rev. Dr. William Barber II called upon God to “walk with us in these difficult times, as we stand for love, we stand for mercy and we stand for justice.” Gazing past the vacant pews into the lone video camera, he began his 43-minute sermon with words from the Book of Amos, Chapter 5, Verse 10. “People hate this kind of talk. Raw truth is never popular. But here it is, bluntly spoken…”
In his rich baritone voice, using carefully chosen words, Barber exhorted our nation to take inventory of itself, to scrutinize our history and examine our present reality. Our current public policies do not address the problem of poverty and because of this systemic injustice, there is too much death in this land. He declared that we have failed to live up to the creed that all people are created equal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As James Baldwin said, “A country is only as good… only as strong as the people who make it up and the country turns into what the people want it to become. We made the world we’re living in and we have to make it over.”
Rev. Barber has a vision for how to make this country over. Since 2015, Barber and the Reverend Liz Theoharis, Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, have led The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a multi-state movement of grassroots community and religious leaders and organizations. As Barber explains it, in order “to address poverty we must simultaneously address five interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy and the false and distorted narrative of religious nationalism.”
The Poor People’s Campaign takes up the work started by Martin Luther King, Jr. Toward the end of his life, Dr. King called for a “revolution of values” and planned for a group of 2,000 people to descend on Washington, D.C. to meet with government officials to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their self-image and self-esteem. Genuine equality could only come about when people of all colors and backgrounds had economic security.
On June 20, 2020, The Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington conducted a Digital Justice Gathering to call for a revolution of values to save the soul and heart of our democracy. As Rev. Barber says, “If we are going to make it [this country] over, we need real truth telling. And, in the words of the prophet Amos,”…let justice surge like mighty waters, and righteousness like an unfailing stream.”
To read more about The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival CLICK HERE.
To view the June 2020 Digital Justice Gathering CLICK HERE.