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NC's NAACP Leader Headlines LGBTQ Media Confab

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Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

As reported by Gretchen Rachel Hammond, of the Windy City Times:

LGBTQ media professionals gathered in Philadelphia on March 13-14, as they looked forward to the issues that will take center stage post-marriage-equality and inward to their reporting of them.

The tone of the 2015 LGBT Media Journalists Convening was set by the March 13 opening reception keynote delivered by celebrated North Carolina minister, civil-rights and political leader, author and NAACP board member Rev. Dr. William Barber II who asked the audience to repeat the phrase "forward together. Not one step back."

"The key to turning America away from much of the extremism we see, [is to] have an indigenously led state-based, state-government state-legislature focused, deeply moral, deeply constitutional, anti- racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative fusion movement," Barber asserted. "We're in a dangerous place right now in America politically. On the one hand we see the Supreme Court about to rule in favor of marriage equality but the same Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United and against voting rights. We need to build relationships that are long-term, not based on one-issue campaigns."

Barber noted that extreme policies do not only hurt small groups of people. "[They] hurt us all," he said. "We are making it clear to the political powers that currently be 'if you touch one of us, you touch all of us.'"

He further challenged attendees to examine constitutional principles of common good and moral justice for all rather than one political party against another. "Democrat versus Republican is often too narrow," he said. "I don't call the right 'right' when I think they're wrong. I'm empowering them by constantly saying 'the right.'"

Barber added that the prefix "religious" to those on that side of the debate was also disingenuous. "We have to challenge this notion of religion that says that the pre-eminent moral issues are about religion in schools, abortion and homosexuality when in fact, the tenets of every major religion suggest that the real issues we ought to debate in the public square have to do with how you treat the poor, those on the margins, women, children, workers, immigrants and people who are different than you," he said to rousing applause. "If a person is different than me, I have a moral responsibility to make sure they do not feel that, just because they are different, they are not my brother or my sister in the human family. We cannot let the religious right have the moral discourse."

According to Barber, change in America was not going to result principally through the work of national movements. "If you look at the history of America, change is from Selma up, from Birmingham up," he said. "Not change from D.C. down. Never has, never will. The movements that changed LGBT issues started from the bottom up. We have real movements in each state led by indigenous leadership, not one person that helicopters in, gives a speech and then leaves."

He urged the audience to consistently commit to the principles of civil disobedience. "When we have followed all of the steps of non-violence, there are times that we must put our bodies on the line and be willing to be arrested to shift the narrative and prick the consciousness of the people," he said. "We must resist the 'one moment' mentality. Nobody is afraid of one rally or just one march."

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