REVIVE US AGAIN by William J. Barber II


Vision and Action in Moral Organizing
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A collection of Christianly-inflected calls for social justice.

The heart of this book is a batch of speeches and sermons by activist and minister Barber (The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear, 2016), the president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. Calling for a “moral movement…rooted in the constitutional and sacred values of compassion, empathy, and courageous dedication to the common good,” he advocates for a living wage, denounces “apartheid redistricting” and the Supreme Court’s attacks on voting rights, demands quality public education and accessible health care, criticizes the death penalty, and insists that “it’s time for America to have a grown-up conversation about race.” Barber grounds his arguments in Scripture—in particular, the Hebrew prophets—and the Constitution. For example, he notes that the First Amendment gives Americans the right to disagree about topics like LGBTQ rights, but the 14th Amendment means that we cannot “enact laws that, because of our religious or private conviction, remove equal protection of the law from any citizen.” Often, Barber’s stirring rhetoric—his use of anaphora, his skillful interweaving of academic research with folksy quotes from his grandmother—radiates off the page. Each of the author’s addresses is followed by a response from a friend or colleague: Environmentalist Karenna Gore riffs on Barber’s call for action on climate change; peace activist Jodie Evans comments on his denunciations of Islamophobia; historian Timothy Tyson locates Barber in the traditions of Afro-Christianity and the blues. A few of the other contributions feel like padding. In early, clunky chapters, Lowery and Theoharis ploddingly argue that the biblical God cared about liberation and the biblical writers cared about the poor. Martin Luther King Jr. might be considered another contributor, given how frequently Barber invokes him.

Inspiring, though not as inspiring as actually hearing Barber at the mic.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-8070-2560-4
Page count: 248pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2018


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