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Pastor and social justice advocate to speak at the 27th annual MLK Convocation

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, pastor and social justice advocate, will speak at Loyola University Maryland’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Convocation on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, at 7 p.m. in Reitz Arena.

Barber will discuss current event issues related to social and racial justice during his lecture, “The Fierce Urgency of Now.” This event is free and open to the public; however, registration is required. To register, visit

“This convocation is a longstanding tradition that brings together the Loyola University Maryland campus and community in remembrance and honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., the associate vice president for graduate academic affairs and diversity at Loyola who will become the University’s first chief equity and inclusion officer beginning Jan. 1, 2020. “The convocation is a wonderful way for us to recommit ourselves to justice, equity, and inclusion.”

Since 1993 Barber has served as a pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., where he focuses on interfaith and multiracial issues. His advocacy for voting rights, healthcare, immigrant rights, public education, and LGBTQ rights has led to rallies in Raleigh, N.C., as well as thousands of nonviolent acts of civil disobedience across the south.

In 2013, Barber founded Repairers of Breach, an organization that strives to build and expand a national movement in moral analysis, articulation, and action. He helped create a revival of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others helped orchestrate. The movement has since built state and local non-partisan movements, which aim to build power and challenge laws and policies that pose a threat to underprivileged individuals. 

Barber earned his B.A. from North Carolina Central University, a Master of Divinity from Duke University, and doctorate from Drew University. He has received eight honorary doctorate degrees and is the 2019 Hubert H. Humphrey Award recipient for Human Rights. He has served on the NAACP board since 2005 and was the president of the North Carolina chapter from 2006-2017. He is a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary and has published numerous books and articles. Barber is also a contributing op-ed writer for The Guardian, The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and The Washington Post.

The MLK Convocation, celebrating its 27th year, is an occasion for Loyola and the Baltimore community to launch the spring semester and the New Year by coming together for shared inquiry into the legacies of race and racial justice in America. Past speakers have included Roxanne Gay, Octavia Butler, Spike Lee, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.