portrait of William BarberWilliam Barber
speaking at the Democratic National Convention, photo extracted from video feed (28 July 2016)

Reviving the Heart of Our Democracy

Dr Rev William Barber II of North Carolina brought down the house on the last night of the Democratic National Convention with a compelling ten minute homily. He calls himself a conservative, and he is, but he was supporting Hillary Clinton. Videos of the speech are easy to find, accurate transcripts are rare.

You will find an expanded profile, additional biographical links, and all quotes here for William Barber.

Good evening, my brothers and sisters:

I come before you tonight as a preacher, the son of a preacher. A preacher immersed in the movement at five years old. I don't come tonight representing any organization, but I come to talk about faith and morality.

I'm a preacher and I'm a theologically conservative liberal evangelical biblicist. [Cheers] I know it may sound strange, but I'm a conservative because I work to conserve a divine tradition that teaches us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. [Cheers] 

I've had the privilege of traveling the country with the Rev Dr James Forbes and Rev Dr Traci Blackmon and Sister Simone Campbell. As  we are working together in the revival and calling for a revolution of values, and as we travel the country and see some things, that's why I'm so concerned about those that say so much, about what God says so little, while saying so little about what god says so much. [Cheers] 

And so, in my heart, I'm troubled. And I'm worried by the way faith is cynically used by some to serve hate, fear, racism, and greed. We need to heed the voice of the scriptures. We need to listen to the ancient chorus, in which deep calls unto deep. The prophet Isaiah cries out, what I'm interested in, seeing you doing,  says the Lord, as a nation is, pay people what they deserve. [Cheers] Share your food with the hungry. Do this and then your nation shall be called a repairer of the breach. [Cheers] 

Jesus, Jesus, a brown skinned Palestinian Jew called us, called us to preach good news to the poor, the broken, and the bruised, and all those who are made to feel unaccepted. Our constitution calls us to commit our government to establish justice, to promote the general welfare, to provide for the common defense, and to ensure domestic tranquility. [Cheers]

Now, to be true, we have never lived this vision perfectly. But this ought to be the goal at the heart of our democracy. And when religion is used to camouflage meanness, we know that we have a heart problem in America. [Cheers] 

There have always been forces that wanted to harden, even stop the heart of our democracy. But there have also always been people who stood together to stir what sister Dorothy Day called a revolution of the heart and what Dr. King called a radical revolution of values. [Cheers] 

I say to you tonight, that some issues are not left versus right, or liberal versus conservative, they are right versus wrong. We need to embrace our deepest moral values and push for a revival of the heart of our democracy. When we fight to reinstate the power of the voting rights act, [Cheers] and we break the interposition and  nullification of the current congress. We in the South especially note that when we do that, we are reviving the heart of our democracy. [Cheers] When we fight for fifteen  and a union, [Cheers] and universal health care, and public education, and immigrant rights, and LGBQT rights,  [Cheers] We are reviving the heart of our democracy. [Cheers] 

When we develop tax and trade policies that no no longer  funnel our prosperity to the wealthy few, we are reviving the heart of our democracy. [Cheers] When we hear the legitimate discontent of Black Lives Matter and we come together to renew justice in our criminal justice system, we are embracing our deepest moral values and reviving the heart of our democracy. [Cheers] 

When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child, [Cheers] the Muslim and the Christian and the Hindu and the Buddhist and those who have no faith but they love this nation, [Cheers] we are reviving the heart of our democracy. 

When we fight for peace and when we resist the proliferation of military style weapons on our streets, [Cheers] and when we stand against the anti-democratic stronghold of the NRA, we are reviving the heart of our democracy. [Cheers] 

In times like these, we have to make some decisions and I might not  normally  be here as a preacher, and an individual, but when I hear Hillary's voice and  positions, I hear and I know that she is working to embrace our deepest moral values and we should embrace her. [Cheers] 

But let me be clear, let me be clear, that she, nor any person, can do it alone. The watchword of this democracy and the watchword of faith is 'we'. The heart of our democracy is on the line this November and beyond. [Cheers] 

Now, my friends, they tell me that when the heart is in danger, somebody has to call an emergency code. And somebody with a good heart will bring a defibrillator to work on a bad heart. [Cheers] Because it's possible to shock a bad heart and revive the pulse. In this season, when some want to harden and stop the heart of our democracy, we are being called like our foremothers and fathers to be the moral defibrillators of our time. [Cheers] 

We must shock this nation with the power of love. 
We must shock this nation with the power of mercy. 
We must shock this nation and fight for justice for all. 
We can't give up on the heart of our democracy, not now, not ever! [Cheers] 

And so, and so I stop by here tonight to ask, is there a heart in this house? [Cheers] Is there a heart in America? [Cheers] Is there somebody that has a heart for the poor, and a heart for the vulnerable? [Cheers] Then stand up. Vote together. Organize together. [Cheers] Fight for the heart of this nation. [Cheers] 

And while you're fighting, sing that old hymn: 

Revive us again,
Fill each heart with thy love.
May each soul be rekindled 
With fire from above. 

Hallelujah! Find the glory. [Cheers] 

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