by Sam Hieb
Whoever said it doesn’t pay to lead weekly Moral Monday protests outside the General Assembly was dead wrong—the Rev. William Barber–longtime political activist and former head of state NAACP–has been awarded a $625,000 “Genius Grant” by the MacArthur Fellowship:
“I’ve just been arrested in Chicago, and I’m waiting on their process,” he said in a call to the News & Observer. “For minimum wage, in front of McDonald’s headquarters.”
Nevertheless, the MacArthur news was a good spirit-lifter.
“It’s a gesture of support, to do more of what you’re trying to do,” Barber said. “It doesn’t say rest on your laurels, but to keep on pushing. In this work, sometimes you get heavy criticism. People do say ugly things, ‘You just want money.’ I just want other people to have health care. You know, Jesus healed everybody and never charged a co-pay.”
As head of the North Carolina NAACP, Barber gained national attention starting in 2013 by spearheading the “Moral Monday” movement in the state. It was a series of weekly protest rallies at the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly.
The grant comes with no strings attached and is paid out over five years.