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Rev. William Barber II Receives $625,000 MacArthur Genius Grant

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Rev. William Barber II

North Carolina pastor and civil rights advocate William Barber II is one of 25 recipients of the MacArthur “Genius” Grant.

The MacArthur Foundation announced Thursday that the former state NAACP leader and driving force of the resurrected “Poor Peoples’ Campaign” will receive $625,000 for his work in civil rights, racial reconciliation, poverty and voting rights, among other issues.

Credit John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

“He is effective at building unusually inclusive fusion coalitions that are multiracial and interfaith, reach across gender, age, and class lines, and are dedicated to addressing poverty, inequality, and systemic racism,” the MacArthur Foundation said in its description of Barber’s work.

Barber, 55, served as the North Carolina NAACP president for more than a decade. He stepped down from the organization last year to help restart the Poor Peoples’ Campaign, a movement started by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968.

The pastor also started “Moral Monday” protests at the General Assembly in the spring of 2013. The acts of civil disobedience protested actions by the legislature that Barber said suppressed voter turnout, and disenfranchised poor and minorities communities. The protests drew thousands of participants and spread to other states.  

Barber also founded “Repairers of the Breach,” a leadership development program and an extension of the Moral Monday protests, in 2014.

“Barber is providing a faith-based framework for action that strengthens civic engagement and inspires the country to imagine a more humane society,” the MacArthur Foundation said.

The foundation said other recipients of the genius grant range from writers to engineers, artists to lawyers, and are “extraordinarily creative people who inspire us all.”

Take a look at the rest of the 2018 MacArthur Genius winners here