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MLK Jr. Celebration Features Barber 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 29, 2019) – Leading American civil rights activist and author Rev. William Barber II headlines the University at Albany’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. Doors open at 6 p.m.

In 2018 Barber, founder and president of the national, progressive, faith-based Repairers of the Breach, received the MacArthur “Genius” Award for his success in “building broad-based fusion coalitions as part of a moral movement to confront racial and economic inequality.”

Barber has been called the leading heir to King’s church-based activism in the current generation. “Charismatic, tireless, eloquent, and yet resistant to an excessive nostalgia for the glory days of the movement, he has presence,” noted The New Yorker.

Rev. William Barber II

Rev. William Barber II 

Known for his compelling oratory, Barber has been a leading voice in the Fight for $15 to raise the minimum wage, a proponent of economic justice for the poor and the homeless, and an advocate for the LGBTQ community.

“Rev. Barber’s passionate call to finally bring Dr. King’s vision to fruition is a healing and hopeful response to the divisive messages in our national landscape,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez. “This celebration will be a wonderful opportunity for the UAlbany family to come together and reaffirm our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity.”

Tamra Minor, chief diversity officer and assistant vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, added: “It is our honor to have Dr. Barber on this campus. Our office strives to provide opportunities for the campus community to hear and get the tools necessary to build stronger community. Dr. Barber makes it known that there is more that connects us than separates us and, regardless of differences, we all have a responsibility and an obligation to treat all people with respect and dignity. That’s a powerful message for today.”

The program, Minor said, also will include a question-and-answer session, noting that Barber has said previously that society needs to get beyond talking about King and determine how to continue his work.

Barber gained national attention as architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement, which organized regular “Moral Monday” protests at the North Carolina state capitol beginning in 2013 in response to social justice issues in the state, including voting rights and cuts to social programs. These protests continued for four years, drawing tens of thousands of participants. His 2016 “Moral Day of Action” calling for nationwide protests constituted the largest coordinated action on state capitals in U.S. history.

In addition to his work with Repairers of the Breach, he is co-chair, with Rev. Liz Theoharis, of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Together, they are seeking to revitalize King’s original Poor People’s Campaign, which sought to improve conditions for the impoverished across racial lines.

“Poverty has become so racialized that most people don’t know the majority of poor people are white,” Barber told The New Yorker in the May 14, 2018 article William Barber takes on Poverty and Race in the Age of Trump.

A native of North Carolina, Barber serves as pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, N.C. He is the author of three books, Revive Us Again (2018), The Third Reconstruction (2016), and Forward Together (2014).

There will be a free reception in the Campus Center from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. before the program begins.

Barber’s appearance is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Student Association, in collaboration with the New York State Writers Institute.

Admission is free. The event is open to the public. Advance registration is required.

Other Black History Month Events

Feb. 6: Family on Furlough. A Peer Educator Program, 8:30 -10 p.m. MRC.   

Feb. 7-9: Black Solidarity Conference, Yale.

Feb. 7: Black Faculty and Staff Association Appreciation Luncheon from noon to 1 p.m. in the Campus Center HUB, hosted by the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC). In addition, MRC peer educators will highlight historic figures and past and present faculty and staff of African descent who have made an impact on the UAlbany community. MRC (CC West 85 and 87).

Feb. 11: Black Student Healing Circle. An in-group dialogue, 2-3 p.m. MRC.

Feb. 11: Love the Skin You're In. An intergroup dialogue, 6-7 p.m. MRC.  

Feb. 12: Black Student Healing Circle. An in-group dialogue. 11 a.m.-noon. MRC.

Feb. 12: Black History Trivia Night. 6:30-8 p.m. MRC.  

Feb. 13: Black Student Healing Circle. An in-group dialogue. 4:30-5:30 p.m. MRC.

Feb. 14: Pan American International High School. 1:30 p.m.Touring the MRC.

Feb. 16: NAACP’s 8th Annual Founders Day Gala, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Location: TBD.

Feb. 18: Black Business Expo, 6-11 p.m., Multipurpose Room. (NAACP, NABA & NCBW)

Feb. 20: Mass Incarceration. An intergroup dialogue, 6:30-7:30 p.m. MRC.

Feb. 21: Challenges for African Americans in Academia in 2019, Raymond M. Burse lecture. 3 p.m. PAC  Recital Hall. 

Feb. 27: Soul Food Mixer, 7-8:30 p.m. HUB (Tickets are $3).

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