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Rev. William Barber, President Of NC NAACP, To Step Down In June

Nathania Johnson
The Rev. William Barber speaking at a Moral Monday rally in Raleigh, NC

The Rev. William Barber, who served as a commanding voice for voting rights, gay rights, and the equal treatment of African-Americans during his 12 years as president of the NC NAACP, has announced he will step down in June.

Barber gained national prominence in 2013 when his organization began launching weekly Moral Monday rallies that drew thousands to the state capital to protest a wide range of actions being taken by the Republican-dominated general assembly and the newly-elected Republican governor, Pat McCrory.

Under his direction, the NAACP challenged a law that required North Carolinians to present a photo ID at the polls and rolled back several other changes that advocates said expanded African-American voting participation. Barber spoke to WFAE's Charlotte Talks about the lawsuit in 2013.

"This is nothing more than voter suppression," he told host Mike Collins, "They know it, we know it, and that's why we're suing, and that's why we're going to win in court."

The NAACP and co-plaintiffs ultimately did win in court after a three-judge panelstruck down the law in 2016, finding it discriminated against African-Americans with "surgical precision."

Barber led his chapter in multiple crusades on behalf of the state's LGBT population. In 2012, the organization railed against North Carolina's constitutional ban on gay marriage, known as Amendment One. In 2016, he called for an economic boycott against the state in response to House Bill 2, which limited the rights of gay and transgender residents.

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Barber described himself as a "theologically conservative liberal evangelical biblicist." Conservative, he said, as in conserving "the divine tradition that teaches us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God."  He told the convention that some issues aren't "left versus right, or liberal versus conservative, they are right versus wrong."

After stepping down next month, Barber will turn his attention to a new poor people's campaign and "a national call for a moral revival." The 53-year-old says he will continue to serve as pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, and remain on the national NAACP's board.

Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal