During a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life in Nashville, TN on Monday, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II – a Black Preacher who not scared to say it – called out Governor Bill Lee (R-TN) in a fiery speech, while the Tennessee Governor sat just feet away from the dais where Barber was speaking.
“Politicians can’t say they love Dr. King and how he stood for love and unity, but then you deny and refuse to support his agenda,” Rev. Barber stated before turning to add “Right Governor?” to Gov. Lee sitting behind him. (see video below)
Barber’s 50-minute long speech, in front of thousands who marched to TSU’s Gentry Center, rallied the audience in support of a bevy of issues that broadly included equality for the poor, better treatment of immigrants, universal health care and a call against restrictive voter laws.
Before Barber’s speech, Lee said he wants to bring Tennesseans together and that King would have said there is more work to do.
A Lee spokesman says, “Freedom allows for different opinions, and that is what makes this country the special place it is.”
Rev. Barber then noted that Governor Lee himself is a product of immigration, asking “Governor, what’s your name?” Then asked if “Lee” is a Native American name, and if not, how he can support all this anti-immigrant legislation.
Rev. Barber also openly mocked Vice President Pence’s referencing of King’s past comments as a defense of President Trump’s plan to build a border wall. “That’s just foolish!”
About Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II: Rev. Dr. Barber has served as the Executive Director of N.C. Human Relations Commission, State of North Carolina. Rev. Dr. Barber has also served as an adjunct instructor at N.C. Wesleyan, North Carolina Central University and Duke Divinity School. He is currently the site Dean for Apex School of Theology.
Rev. Dr. Barber has served on the trustee boards of two colleges and is an MIT Mel King Community Fellow for Community and Economic CoLab.
Rev. Dr. Barber is the President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP (2005) and was re-elected National Board Member (2011) and appointed as the National NAACP Chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee. Under his leadership, the NAACP developed a new 21st Century voter registration/voter participation system. Nationwide this system registered more than 442,000 new voters and provided access to 1.5 million voters. Rev. Barber serves as convener of the Forward Together and the HKonJ People’s Assembly.
Rev. Dr. Barber led fundraising efforts for the NC NAACP raising more than $2 million of new money over the last seven years and has increased NC NAACP staff from one to seven persons.
Since Rev. Dr. Barber became president, he led the North Carolina NAACP State Conference to national recognition when he accepted the 2006 Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Esq. Award for legal activism, the highest award in the NAACP for Legal Redress for Advocacy. In addition, in 2008 the NC NAACP became the recipient of the Thalheimer Award for most programmatic NAACP State Conference and in 2010 Rev. Dr. Barber won the National NAACP Kelly Alexander Award.
Rev. Dr. Barber has written one book entitled, “Preaching Through Unexpected Pain”, and several articles and is currently working on his second book. He has been featured on Wall Street, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, Crisis Magazine, and has spoken, preached and lectured around the country.
Rev. Dr. Barber’s membership affiliations have included Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and Prince Hall Mason, 33°.Scotish Rite, and a Shriner. He has received many awards for his work fighting for justice, social change, and for speaking truth to power.
By the grace of God, Rev. Dr. Barber, along with local, state, and national NAACP leaders, has helped to lead the fight for voter rights, just redistricting, health care reform, labor and worker rights, protection of immigration rights, and reparation for women survivors of Eugenics, release of the Wilmington Ten and educational equality. Rev. Dr. Barber has been arrested three times for civil disobedience as he stood for educational, economic and equal justice.