On the eve of MLK Day, Rev Dr William Barber spoke at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City and led an interfaith prayer walk to Trump Towers. We can take hope in the fact that he is continuing King’s legacy and giving us all an opportunity to be part of a national call for a moral revival.
He talked about the importance of knowing who we are in these times, both personally and as a country. He talked about how America has always struggled to know who she is, that there is a schizophrenia in the way what our country says in creed is not what it does in deed.
He talked about how the problem today is not just about the one person in the White House, but the sickness that has been infused into the entire system. And of the system’s ”septic commitment to racism, poverty, and militarism.”
“You can be white supremacist and be very nice…racism is no longer about personal relationships and whether you have a black friend… we cannot use the “n” word anymore, so we use the words tax cuts, entitlement reform, law and order, and states rights…”
He invoked King’s deep analysis of history, which is that America has never fully healed from race-based slavery. From Dr. King:
“Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that Capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.”
“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn… with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.”
Barber is calling for a coalition of poor people of all races to unite, to repair the heart of democracy – https://poorpeoplescampaign.org/
The full speech is here. If you don’t have a full 2 hours to listen to the entire event, skip to the end and give yourself a few minutes of listening to the trumpets playing at the end, it’s particularly heartening.