The Rev. William J. Barber II to deliver Wold lecture

Publication Date

The Rev. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach, a non-profit organization committed to building and supporting moral movements for social change, will speak in Memorial Chapel Thursday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m. as part of the Wold Lecture on Religion and Conflict.

William Barber

His talk, open to members of the campus community and the public, is titled, “We Are Called to be a Movement.” It is co-hosted by the Wold Lecture Series, Campus Protestant Ministry, the Office of Intercultural Affairs and Hillel.

"We are profoundly moved to be hosting the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, who has picked up the mantle left by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and is the leading voice for social justice in the country,” said Protestant Chaplain Tim Coombs, a member of Union’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

“His universal message transcends our divisions to gather us around the moral center and purpose to end injustice by combating the multi-pronged social ills that cause and uphold it, such as racism, poverty, militarism and environmental degradation.”

Barber holds numerous professional roles. He is a Protestant minister, social activist, professor and founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School.

A MacArthur Fellow, he is also known for his embrace of Moral Mondays, a series of protests that originated in North Carolina and spread to other states as a nonviolent means to push back against threats to education, social programs, and voting and labor rights.

He is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival. This anti-poverty campaign takes its name from the 1968 effort by Dr. King and others to gain economic justice for poor Americans.

There are some140 million poor and low-income people and 52 million low-wage workers in the U.S. Barber has described the nation’s poverty as a “basic moral contradiction,” noting that “for too long, we have believed the propaganda that tells us the suffering of America’s poor is either their fault or the inevitable cost of economic growth.”

Barber holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University and a doctorate in Public Policy and Pastoral Care from Drew University. He served as president of the North Carolina NAACP from 2006 to 2017 and on the National NAACP Board of Directors from 2008 to 2020.

A book signing will follow his talk. For further details, contact Coombs at (518) 388-6618 or (518) 669.0123;