"Pick up the baton:" Rev. Dr. William Barber speaks at Bridgewater
The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II gave a lecture at Bridgewater College this week in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
Rev. Barber, the renowned pastor, moral leader, and political organizer, addressed a crowded auditorium on Wednesday evening. He's the president and senior lecturer of the Repairers of the Breach, and co-chair of the revitalized Poor People's Campaign, which was originally started by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his colleagues in 1968.
WILLIAM J. BARBER II: He said the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the masses of Negroes and poor white people is what resulted in a segregated society. He said the arrogant Southern aristocracy feared the mobilization of poor white folk and poor Black folk into a political block that would fundamentally shift the economic architecture of this nation. Did you know that, right now, poor folk in this country and low wage people make up 30% of the electorate? And in battleground states where the margin of victory is less than 3% in a presidential race, they make up 44 to 45% of the electorate?
Barber exhorted the audience to not just celebrate King, but to "pick up the baton" where he left off – fighting America's "three major evils" of racism, poverty, and war.
BARBER: Do you know that if poor and low-wealth people and their allies and people of faith were just to vote 15 to 20% higher than they have, that they could challenge and direct any election from the governors to the Senate to the president? That's why you're being fought – not because you're weak. Because you're powerful. [applause]
Barber closed his talk to an extended, standing ovation, as he called those who have been rejected by society to come stand with him at the podium.