Rev. William J. Barber II

Rev. William Barber II
Rev. William Barber II

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber is the founder and president of Repairers of the Breach. Together with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, he recently published The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.

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We Will Not Bow Down

Tips from the book of Daniel for dealing with a tyrant.

IN THE BOOK of Daniel, you find the words, “Can the God you serve deliver you?” Here’s the truth: The God we serve can deliver. But even if not, we will never bow down and serve other gods.

Daniel, set during the Babylonian exile, has something to say about history. It explores the vulnerability of people living under oppression. Many of the Israelites found themselves in bondage in Babylon.

There was a king of Babylon named Nebuchadnezzar. He was a mighty king, and when he issued an order, he meant business. Nebuchadnezzar was a narcissistic maniac who made everything about him. He made a golden tower, and he ordered that everybody under the reign of his kingship had to bow.

One day, Nebuchadnezzar called in those he had appointed and the ones he had pardoned, the governors and the sheriffs. He had a dedicatory service for his golden image, and he was trying to make sure that he wouldn’t have to lie about those who attended his inauguration.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three young Hebrew men, represent the choices faced by those who must either support a repressive regime or face certain death. Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to bow—forget their heritage, forget their legacy, forget their journey, forget their God, forget their rights, and bow down. He wanted everyone around him to feel less than him, because he had his own inferiority complex.

The name Nebuchadnezzar literally means “one who will do anything to protect his power.” That’s why Nebuchadnezzar built his towers. He built his tower more than 10 stories tall. Nebuchadnezzar put his name on his tower. Everything he built, he put his name on it, because he was a narcissistic maniac. And then he put gold on his tower, and he promised that he, and only he, could make Babylon great again.

In North Carolina, the March Against Extreme Policies Is Working

Image courtesy NC NAACP.

On Feb. 11, more than 80,000 people gathered in Raleigh, N.C., for the largest Moral Monday march yet — challenging Trumpism in Washington, D.C., and legislative overreach in our state. More important than the numbers, though, are people’s convictions: Principle, not party, is the reason why we march. We march because our deepest religious traditions have trained our bodies to stand up in the face of injustice.

Decrying Hypocrisy Is Not Enough

After a year of verbal brutality, racially charged speeches, and regressive policy proposals, Trump attended a black church in an effort to convince African Americans he is not racist. His trip to Detroit with Ben Carson was the photo op that such an effort demands. Though he was shrewd enough not to say the words, the whole spectacle was designed to say, “some of my best friends are black.”

When Politicians Appeal to White Rage

Donald Trump

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, Calif., on May 25. mikeledray /

Stopping on the campaign trail in Wilmington, N.C., Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested that violence might be the only way to stop Hillary Clinton. He spent the following day basking in the shock value of his words while maintaining that he’d been misunderstood. I’m not sure Mr. Trump understands the demons he has unleashed, but Wilmington is a good place to learn.

Subverting Democracy Is Not Partisan. It Is Immoral.

Activists Speak Out on N.C.'s 'Racially Discriminatory' Voter ID Law, Struck Down Last Week

Moral March in Raleigh, N.C., in Februar 2014. EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics /

Since the summer of 2013, we have called this law — which the 4th Circuit struck down on Friday — a monster voter suppression bill. It was the first and the worst of many voter suppression measures to pass through state houses since the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision stripped the Voting Rights Act of its power to guarantee fair elections in this country. In many ways, it performed the new Southern Strategy of James Crow, Esq., which attempts to hold onto power as white voters become one among many minorities in this country. It is a strategy that necessarily depends on old fears, racism, and divide-and-conquer tactics.

Turning Tears Into Righteous Indignation

Image via  /

Let’s prosecute these police officers fair but hard because the shooting of innocent Black men and women is done in our names. Until there are consequences this will only continue.

Orlando Massacre: We Cannot Let Hate Have the Last Word

Memorial for Orlando victims outside the landmark Stonewall Inn in New York City.

Memorial for Orlando victims outside the landmark Stonewall Inn in New York City.  Christopher Penler /

But while we cry, we must also gain our composure and not allow hate or cynicism to have the first, the loudest, or the last word.

We cannot use hate as the path through our pain into our tomorrow. Hate fuels hate: racial hate, homophobic hate, religious hate, class hate, and the rhetoric of hate that drives the terrorist and the mob. The culture of hate creates the actions of hate. It is and always has been a recipe for murder.

Rev. William Barber: Here's Why I Got Arrested

Image via Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Today is the first time I have ever been arrested in Washington, D.C. I came for the same reason Southern political leaders petitioned President Grant to send troops in the 1870s — for the same reason Dr. King called upon Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to enforce federal law in the 1960s. I came because the interposition and nullification of extremists is blocking a Third Reconstruction in America today.

The Racism Lurking Behind N.C.’s Anti-LGBT Law

2014 Moral March in Raleigh, N.C.

2014 Moral March in Raleigh, N.C. EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics /

Meeting for a one-day emergency session last week, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed HB2, which has been widely criticized as the nation’s worst anti-LGBT bill. In supposed defense of the general welfare, conservative lawmakers moved to stop a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender citizens to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. But their call to “protect our women and children” echoes language of the white supremacy campaign that overthrew local governments in this state 120 years ago. Both then and now, the call to defend families against imagined predators is a crude power grab.

Why It's Possible to Reject the Klan and Still Support Racism

Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington D.C. in 1926. Everett Historical /

If Donald Trump is telling the truth, he only recently learned that David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, is an avowed segregationist. Apparently, the KKK and its history have faded from many white Americans’ memory. Jeffrey Lord argued on national television this week that the Klan is an invention of “the left.” As native sons of the South, we could forgive these men their ignorance. (“Bless their hearts. They ain’t from around here,” is the polite way to say it.) But we can neither forgive nor ignore the way 400 years of white supremacy have been naively reduced to whether a candidate will disavow the support of a hate group leader. Racism lives on in policies that perpetuate racial disparities, with or without the KKK.