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NC Rev. Barber Holds Major Role At Inauguration Service

Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church Rev. Dr. William Barber II, left, speaks as Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, right, listens
Ben McKeown

Reverend William Barber of Goldsboro delivered the homily at the official prayer service for the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden on Thursday.

Barber is known nationally for his political activism.

The civil rights leader called on President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to address several issues he calls injustices, including systemic racism and unaffordable healthcare.

“We can’t accept the poverty and low wealth of 140 million Americans before COVID-19 and many more millions since. We must have a Third Reconstruction,” Barber said Thursday. “We must address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, denial of health care, the war economy, and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism. These are breaches that must be addressed, and according to the text, repairing the breaches will bring revival.

“Repairing the breaches will bring revival. If you get rid of unfair practices, the prophet says. If you are generous with the hungry. If you start giving yourselves to the down and out, then you'll be known as repairers of the breach. Those who can fix anything- restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, and make the community livable again."

Biden and Harris participated in the mostly virtual event hosted by the Washington National Cathedral.

The service featured prayers and songs from religious leaders and artists across the country, including Robert W. Lee, a pastor from North Carolina and descendent of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Barber is a minister at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign and president of the Repairers of the Breach. The groups emphasize rights for the poor, workers, people of color and LGBT citizens.

He was once president of the North Carolina NAACP, and that was when he led the “Moral Monday” rallies and marches at the Legislative Building in Raleigh in the 2010s.

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
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