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The Rev. William J. Barber II Appointed Founding Director of Yale Divinity School’s Center for Public Theology and Public Policy

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II has been appointed founding director of Yale Divinity School’s (YDS) new Center for Public Theology and Public Policy. He will also serve as professor in the practice of public theology and public policy.The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber IIThe Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

Barber – a moral movement leader with experience of 30 years of pastoral ministry and in multiple public leadership roles – led the Moral Mondays protests and movement in North Carolina; established Repairers of the Breach to train communities in moral movement building; and co-anchored the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

He has taught at Union Theological Seminary St. John's University, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

“YDS is thrilled to launch the new Center for Public Theology and Public Policy and to welcome William Barber to our community,” said YDS Dean Greg Sterling. “Dr. Barber’s work and service is in the tradition of public witness that produced Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, Walter Rauschenbusch and Howard Thurman, Ida B. Wells and Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Establishment of the Center at YDS is an opportunity to deepen our relationship to a historical movement that revives nearly two centuries of social justice tradition to meet the complex social realities of our time.”

The center – it begins work in early 2023 – will concentrate on expressions of public faith that contribute to movements for justice. It will also partner with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. South to build pathways for HBCU students to engage in the center’s work and connect its programs to the history and work of southern freedom movements and institutions.

“I have been a pastor engaged in movement work for three decades,” Barber said. “While I continue the work of movement building, I’m transitioning my pastoral work from the congregation to the classroom. I want to walk with the next generation of moral leaders and share with them what was passed down to me. I’ve been given too much to just take it all with me when I leave this life. I want to pass it on.”

Barber holds a Doctor of Ministry with a concentration in public policy and pastoral care from Drew University; a Master of Divinity from Duke University; and a bachelor's degree from North Carolina Central University.        

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