Hundreds of students and administrators gathered in Portland this week to push colleges and universities across the nation to do a better job in addressing equity issues.
The National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) has become the gathering place for student activists and administrators to strategize and brainstorm ways to address some of the nation's most vexing social ills. This year's conference included presentations from well-known activists, scholars and authors including Tim Wise, Matika Wilbur, and the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, who delivered a rousing speech on Wednesday, where he called for a "moral revival."
"There is a challenge in this moment, a challenge of a moral crisis and a crisis of civilization that grows out of how this nation began," said Barber, who is co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign. "The struggle is to make real the promises of America."
Barber challenged attendees to push back against a right-wing agenda that opposes gun control and refuses to protect a woman's right to choose.
"In an increasingly polarized world, the easy way out is to remain neutral outside of the debate," Barber told the participants. “But telling the truth in a time of lies is revolutionary in and of itself.”
The challenge, he said, is to engage in a "collective cry” that ultimately yields progress over the long run. “There must be prophetic tears, until we create a flood of transformation. As a nation, we have much to cry about."
Too many people in power have become "too comfortable with other people’s death," said Barber, who noted that he is dismayed by the failure to enact gun control in the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas and chided political leaders for refusing the push for an increase in the minimum wage.
“If we don’t deal with this, it’s coming our way,” Barber said, adding that the rhetoric of some conservatives has contributed to the increasing levels of violence throughout the nation.
"Weaponized language unleashes crazy folks," Barber said. "It gives them justification to carry out their meanness."