Rev. Barber: Be 'the moral defibrillators of our time'July 29, 201602:07
In a speech that shook the walls of the the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the President of the North Carolina NAACP, delivered one of the most riveting addresses of the Democratic National Convention.
The 52-year-old pastor delivered a sermon to 20,000 seated and standing in an arena filled to the upper levels as well as in the exclusive suites.
Barber's speech was one of the strongest of either the Republican or Democratic convention as it covered a wide path of moral territory in a nation with changing demographics that will soon permanently alter the future face of U.S. politics.
The crowd responded to the African American preacher who has become a coalition builder and voting rights advocate in a state that passed new laws to make it more difficult to vote after the election of President Obama.
“I don’t come tonight representing any organization. But I’ve come to talk about faith and morality," Barber began.
"I know it may sound strange, but I’m a conservative because I work to conserve a divine tradition that teaches us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God,” he added.
"We are being called, like our mothers and fathers, to be the moral defibrillators of our time. We will shock this nation and fight for justice for all. We will not give up on the heart of our democracy, not now, not ever," he continued.
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Since 2006, Barber has been the President of the largest NAACP Chapter in the South. He has also been omnipresent on the issue of voting rights. His stirring address, which appeared to have been delivered off the cuff, wasn't a surprise to the many who have seen him speak in the past either from the pulpit or on television. Barber was both expansive and specific at the same time.
"When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child, and the Muslim and Buddhist, and Christian and those who have no faith but love this nation we are reviving the heart of this democracy," Barber said as the crowd responded loudly.
"In times like these we have to make some decisions, and I might not normally be here, I hear Hillary's voice and I know we should embrace her," he concluded as he referred to Clinton, the first woman to be nominated by a major political party in American history.
Barber's speech turned political and moral metaphors that appeared to fit the politics of the day. He pinpointed a moment in time on issues around justice, voting rights and political inclusion, and by the time the pastor departed the stage his address was ranked one of the most memorable over a four days that included several memorable remarks.