50 years after Martin Luther King’s death, a ‘new King’ fights for justice

Source: The Guardian

By  in Washington

The Rev Dr William Barber’s arrival in the world was full of portent. He was born on 30 August 1963, two days after Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington, and two weeks before a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, killed four African American girls. When Barber was three months old, President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

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“My parents were asking, ‘What kind of America have we brought this child into in the 20th century, where it could be blown up sitting in a church for Sunday school?’” Barber recalls. “One day in North Carolina, when they were turning back voting rights and healthcare and attacking the gay community and Latinos, I met my mom and she had a tear in her eye. She says, ‘I never thought that I would have a child 50 years ago and that child would grow up and end up having to fight to hold on to some of the things that we tried to win.’ And then she looked at me and said: ‘But you’d better fight.’”

His willingness to do so, from the pulpit and on the streets with rare eloquence, passion and clarity that cuts through the noise of cable news and social media, has seen Barber compared to King as America’s new apostle of nonviolent resistance. He is co-chair of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a grassroots movement planning six weeks of civil disobedience this spring to “save America’s soul”. It evokes King’s own poor people’s campaign, which petered out after he was gunned down 50 years ago.

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