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Barber meets with VP Harris, leads Get Out The Vote rally in N.C.


Bishop William J. Barber remains focused not only on voting rights here in North Carolina and across the country, but also human rights around the world.

Last weekend, the first after the two-week Feb. 15th early voting period began for the March 5th primary, Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-convener of the Poor People’s Campaign, led a coalition of faith leaders and activists in a four-city Moral March to the Polls Tour through North Carolina.

On Saturday and Sunday, Bishop Barber and various leaders in Charlotte, Hickory and Asheville, led GOTV (get out the vote ) rallies, pushing the need for poor and low-wage voters to realize “the policy violence that has been waged by the N..C General Assembly” against them.

On Tuesday, Bishop Barber led various activists during a press conference in Raleigh in front of the N.C. General Assembly to announce details for a major 2024 voter mobilization campaign.

“After another year of devastating legislative attacks on poor people and low-wage workers by the N.C. General Assembly, it’s time for North Carolinians from across the state to take back the mic from the extremists and tell our elected leaders that we refuse to do anything but go Forward Together, Not One Step Back,” said Barber in a statement. “The extreme attacks coming out of the N.C. General Assembly make the need to revive and build upon a progressive vision and movement in North Carolina all the more urgent. We can build the North Carolina we believe in if we expand our democracy to all North Carolinians.”

The goal of the national Poor People’s Campaign effort is “…to mobilize 15 million poor and low-wage voters in more than 30 states ahead of the November 5th election this fall.”

According to the Campaign’s press release, “In North Carolina, there are 3,464,018 poor and low-wage eligible voters, including 2,326,099 White voters, 107,347 Latino voters, 26,403 Asian voters, 885,990 Black voters and 34,966 Indigenous voters. Together, they account for 41.45 percent of the electorate in North Carolina. If 19 percent of low-wage workers who haven’t voted before began to use their voice at the ballot box, they could shift the entire electorate in North Carolina.”

The Moral March to the Polls Tour then returns to Charlotte on Sunday, Feb. 25th for an evening service at Myers Park Baptist Church.

On Saturday, March 2nd in Raleigh, as well as in 30 other capital cities in 30 states across the nation simultaneously, the “Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ State House Assembly & Moral March to the Polls” will take place, during which “…participants will come together to register their votes as demands to end poverty once and for all.”

If Bishop Barber’s plate wasn’t full enough, on Feb. 5th he sat down to a private meeting at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris to “discuss issues impacting [America’s] poor, as well as Israel’s ongoing assault in the Gaza Strip,” according to a release from Barber’s Repairers of the Breach organization.

“The vice president is very clear, I believe, on these issues,” said Barber. “She resonated with the reality of looking at poverty through this lens of death.”

The release noted that Bishop Barber “…pressed Harris to take action to address the concerns of millions of Americans who are locked in poverty or have low-wage jobs. The vice president, he said, was amenable and appeared to be especially interested in a report from the Poor People’s Campaign that frames millions of poor and low-wage Americans as an “untapped power” at the ballot box as well as a 2023 study that argues long-term poverty can be linked to as many as 800 deaths a day.

“When she heard us put it that way, she clearly understood that it’s a different conversation,” he said, noting that Harris said she planned to deliver a speech this year focused on economics and wages. “It’s not about left versus right. Republican versus Democrat. This is about life and death.”

VP Harris acknowledged the meeting on X (formerly Twitter), “…thanking Barber for ‘his years of work to raise wages and end poverty’ before adding: “President Biden and I know we have a duty to ensure workers across our nation are treated with dignity and that all families have the opportunity to thrive.”

Bishop Barber, who is also a professor at Yale University, was then quoted as saying, “I really am not so interested in whether I get another meeting. I really want this to be poor and low-wage folk sitting in the Oval Office with (Harris) and the president.”

VP Harris also asked Bishop Barber his feelings on the conduct of the Israeli-Hamas conflict, which erupted last Oct. 7th when Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel, leaving 1,200 dead, and taking hundreds of hostages.

Barber noted a statement published in The NY Times last November where he and 900 Black Christian faith leaders criticized the Biden Administration for not calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. He also “voiced outrage to Harris over the indiscriminate violence … happening to women and children in Gaza.”

Earlier this week, the Gaza Health Ministry reported that more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed during the Israeli- Hamas conflict.