What the Rev. Dr. William Barber Taught Me Today About The “Teachable” Moment

I have had the privilege of hearing Rev. Barber speak four times in person: twice at Moral Monday gatherings in Raleigh, once at the national convention of the Network for Public Education in Raleigh, and today at the All Out for May 1st Rally – again in Raleigh.

If you ever get to hear him speak, then do it. It’s not just the command of his message, his presence, his cadence, his ability to take a saturating pause, or the penetrating voice.

It’s all of that and his passion for all people that simply exudes from his being.

And he is a big advocate for public education.

In 2016 at that NPE convention, he talked about how communities rely on the public schools to help “create the public.”

What he talked about today was not just how educators help “create the public,” but how those in elected power should protect and serve the public. The issues of Medicaid expansion, raising minimum hourly wages for all school employees, restoring healthcare for school retirees, and putting more psychologists and nurses in schools are all about taking care of that “public.”

Those who “create the public” were telling the people who “serve the public” to “protect the public” from private entities.

And Rev. Barber made sure to emphasize that today’s march and rally was about our role as educators and public school advocates to “teach the lesson” to those in the legislature. It is a lesson concerning uniting people instead of dividing them – that helping one group of people while taking away from another group of people all the while giving more tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy is contrary to the very values that a great teacher like Christ actually taught.

What Rev. Barber did today was to reaffirm that May 1st actually was a school day in Raleigh for a very large class.


That’s public education. (Thanks to Freebird McKinney for the picture).