Tar Heel of the Year: The Rev. William Barber — activist, advocate and preacher

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      Half an hour into a sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington last June about people living on the margins of American society, the Rev. William J. Barber II paused to ask, “Can I preach like I would at home for a minute?”

      He shed his professorial tone and slipped into the more passionate style he uses in his pulpit at the mostly African-American Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro.

      Heading into the crescendo of his message of how God uses people who have been rejected by society to bring about revolution, he played his voice like a pipe organ, hitting high notes and low ones, holding some and snapping others off. He boomed. He whispered. He trembled. He sweated.

      Asking permission was rhetorical. Barber was going to preach anyway. The truth is, he is at home any time he is talking about the condition of America’s poor, whether that’s at a protest at the N.C. Legislative Building in Raleigh, a get-out-the-vote rally in Mississippi, an international conference at the Vatican or a cathedral in the U.S. capital.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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