Systemic racism, rampant income disparity, social segregation and a wide array of other factors support a system of inequality in our nation, in which the needs of the wealthy take precedence over the needs of everyone else. The domination of concentrated wealth in our political system further drives this system of inequality. Through political spending, super-wealthy individuals and organizations are able to influence legislative outcomes, drowning out the voices and needs of other Americans. This system is especially harmful to communities of color. As violence against communities of color has sparked global protests against a system that specifically harms Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), the need for ongoing efforts toward equal rights has become a matter of urgent national attention. One person leading this movement is Reverend Dr. William Barber II.
Rev. Barber is a National NAACP Board Member and a co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. He is a prominent figure in the modern Civil Rights Movement and has led efforts to combat policies and laws that disenfranchise, incarcerate and perpetuate systemic racism Rev. Barber has also put driving big money out of campaign politics at the top of his agenda, once delivering a sermon where he preached: “they deny the God-given humanity and the human rights of individuals and then stack the courts to protect themselves and their power and then put pornographic sums of money into the political structure in order to dominate it.”
In 2018, Rev. Barber led protests against a ‘Voter ID’ law in North Carolina, which objective analysis showed disproportionately impacted Black people and made it more difficult for them to vote. Like the dominance of big money in politics, voter suppression is a tool used to ensure that every American does not have an equal voice, further supporting a system of stratification, inequality and injustice. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, longtime PBS Frontline producer and American Promise supporter Hedrick Smith covered successful citizen-led democracy reform victories from across the nation in his recent PBS series The Democracy Rebellion. Watch Smith interview Rev. Barber about his ongoing efforts to fight for and to protect Black voting rights.