On the stage of the Democratic National Convention last week in Philadelphia, Reverend William Barber II took the house down. The North Carolina civil rights leader, who sat down with Boston Public Radio on Monday, made an appeal for a “moral revolution of values” in the face of hate. “When religion is used to camouflage meanness, we know we have a heart problem in America,” Barber said, emphasizing the need to re-examine the relationship between religion and politics.
Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price III spoke to Boston Public Radio on Wednesday about how Barber’s speech shed light on important issues of race, religion, and politics.
“The reality is that we have to depoliticize this term, ‘Evangelicalism,’” Price said. “There are a number of us - blacks, browns, yellows, red, green, and all the other colors on the hue - who have not had the privilege of using the term ‘Evangelical’ because of the way it’s been politicized by white Christian Evangelicals. In many ways, in some of the articulation of their Evangelicalism, not only do we not belong within the movement or the platform, we don’t even belong within the Body of Christ and the Christian Church, and so what Reverend Barber is doing and what I hope to do is to make a move to be more inclusive of the primary notion of Evangelicalism, which goes back to the Bible.”
On the DNC stage, Barber called for his party to act as the “moral defibrillator” of the nation. “I loved when he said, ‘is there a heart in this house tonight,’ because the right wing conservatives have been predominantly white,” Monroe said.
Barber’s speech and work, such as the Moral Monday protests, represent the future of the civil rights movement. “It’s trying to normalize not only that language in the public discourse, but it’s also trying to actualize it in a way,” Monroe said. “People come from all walks of life, and not just from North Carolina. People will come from other states to be part of Moral Monday”
“This is the new Civil Rights Movement. In many ways, he is our present-day Martin Luther King,” she said.
To hear the full interview with Irene Monroe and Emmett Price III, click on the audio link above.