A Bible-believing black minister in North Carolina is the leader of a new movement called that has brought tens of thousands of people of different races, creeds and backgrounds into the streets in support of social justice.
He is the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C. Firmly rooted in the African-American church tradition, he brings together people of all races and many creeds.
I read about his work in his new book, THE THIRD RECONSTRUCTION: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics and the Rise of a New Social Justice Movement.
He wrote that the histories of Reconstruction following the Civil War and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which he calls the Second Reconstruction, show that black people achieve their goals only through “fusion politics”—white and black people working together for their mutual benefit.
In 2005, soon after being elected president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, he joined with Al McSurely, an experienced white civil rights activist, to organize a meeting of a broad cross-section of reformers in the state—advocates of education funding, living wage, health care, affordable housing, environmental justice, immigrant justice, criminal justice reform and many others.
He had each group draw up its goals on a big sheet of butcher paper and then, on another sheet, list the obstacles to achieving those goals.
The goals were diverse, but the obstacles were the same—North Carolina’s state government and the corporate interests that controlled it.
This was the birth of a new movement called HKonJ, which stands for Historic Thousands on Jones Street, the location of the state legislature in Raleigh. Each year they bring together a People’s Assembly, which hears testimony of victims of injustice and speakers about how injustice can be remedied, and then closes with a sermon and prayer.
Then they march on the legislature to make their voices heard. Because they represent such a large cross-section of North Carolinians, it is hard to dismiss what they say out of prejudice against a particular group.