ANITA GAIL JONES:Fortunately, as we celebrate MLK day today, there are many modern day civil rights leaders picking up the baton to keep America in the race for equality. As Coretta Scott King said, “Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”Last week on Democracy Now! (KPFA, Berkeley)  host Amy Goodman interviewed Rev. Dr. William Barber, II and evangelical minister Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (an ex-page for segregationist Strom Thurmond). These two form an unlikely partnership as the organizers of a new Poor People’s March inspired by the iconic Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) 1968 campaign led by Marion Wright Edleman, Dr. King, Bayard Rustin and many other freedom fighters.

 “Trump is a symptom of a deeper moral malady.”  ~ Rev. Dr. William Barber, III

I couldn’t agree more: Donald Trump’s presence in the White House is like a foul, nasty cold (combination chest and head) that is spreading; bigots and xenophobes everywhere are emboldened. Ain’t nobody got time to be blowing noses and coughing up gunk for the next three years. We all have to find ways to become part of the solution which is why I’m here to share the Democracy Now! interview.

AMY GOODMAN: In the coming months, organizers are planning six weeks of direct action at statehouses across the country and the U.S. Capitol to call attention to systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation …we speak with Reverend William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach. He’s the leader of Moral Mondays and the author of “Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.” We also speak with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, evangelical minister and director of the School for Conversion in Durham, North Carolina. He is author of the upcoming book, “Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion.” Wilson-Hartgrove grew up as a white Southern Baptist, and he served as a page for the late South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, a fierce foe of the civil rights movement and supporter of segregation. Wilson-Hartgrove’s political transformation began after hearing William Barber preach.

“…I had to learn that whiteness is a religion that people are sold on…”   ~ Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

 

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Barber and Wilson-Hartgrove embody the direction toward which Dr. King was moving at the end of his life: uniting races around poverty.

Here’s a rare brief excerpt from The 1968 Poor People’s Campaign from the Henry Louis Gates Documentary – Two Nations: