N.C. NAACP President William Barber to Deliver Duke’s MLK Keynote Jan. 18

Commemoration theme, “Dignity Through Dissent,” pays tribute to John Hope Franklin

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Forward Together Moral Movement, will deliver the keynote address for Duke University's annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration on Sunday, Jan. 18. The keynote, which is free and open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. in Duke Chapel.  Free parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking Garage (see map at http://myatlascms.com/map/?id=21&mrkIid=39570).This year’s theme, “Dignity Through Dissent: Demanding Civil Rights in a Modern World,” honors the memory of Duke historian John Hope Franklin (Jan. 2, 1915 – March 25, 2009), as the university prepares to observe the 100th anniversary of his birth. Franklin is best known for his work “From Slavery to Freedom,” first published in 1947, and continually updated. More than three million copies have been sold. In 1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.  Barber, 51, has been a prominent crusader in North Carolina and nationally for economic justice and empowerment. Under his leadership since 2007, the state NAACP chapter has built a statewide interracial political coalition composed of 93 advocacy groups. The Moral Monday events started in Raleigh in April 2013, held in opposition to racism, poverty and mass incarceration, have since spread across the state and nation. Barber writes about the movement in his new book, “Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation” (Chalice Press).Recently, Barber has helped lead protests against police violence and for reform of the American criminal justice system in the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer for shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown. Barber was in Ferguson on Nov. 28 for the beginning of a 100-mile march from the St. Louis suburb to the capital in Jefferson.Barber is the recipient of the Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Esq. Award for legal activism, the highest award in the NAACP for Legal Redress for Advocacy. Former Gov. Beverly Perdue presented Barber with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's highest citizenship award given to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state.Barber graduated cum laude from North Carolina Central University with a bachelor's degree in political science before receiving a Master of Divinity degree from Duke, where he was a Benjamin Mays Fellow and a Dean scholar. He also has a doctoral degree from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, with a concentration in public policy and pastoral care.Benjamin Reese, co-chair of the MLK Planning Committee and vice president for Duke’s Office for Institutional Equity, said it is fitting that Barber, who has led many peaceful protests, is the keynote speaker.  “As we reflect on the dignified and forceful moral dissent of Drs. King and Franklin, Rev. Barber is a living example of how the humanity and moral persuasion of a community can help bend the arc of justice,” Reese said.“Protest and dissent have always been a critical element in our nation’s ongoing struggle to provide equity, respect and full inclusion for all of its citizens,” Reese said. “The recent demonstrations across the country not only highlight the ongoing violence inflicted on so many black men, but demonstrate the power of peaceful dissent.”The commemoration theme will also be celebrated with a two-day Speak Up event on West Campus.  An open microphone will be set up on quad in front of Duke Chapel from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 16 for all students, faculty and staff who want to give voice to their dissent in the tradition of historic sit-ins and protests. Participants’ concerns can also be shared on Twitter using the hashtag #dignitythroughdissent.  Learn more about this year's commemoration, including an updated listing of events, at spotlight.duke.edu/mlk/.