BY MICHAEL CARMICHAEL OF PLANETARY MOVEMENT
Set in the unlikeliest situation imaginable, the massive Gothic Cathedral that serves as the Methodist chapel at Duke University, and packed to maximum capacity of circa eighteen-hundred people in a highly diverse audience of predominantly young students, aging political activists, representatives of the media and a few curious faculty who gathered to witness a unique conversation between two iconic Americans: Senator Bernie Sanders and Rev. William J. Barber II, the latter a Duke alumnus.
Both participants represent congruent movements that may have finally discovered their mutual admiration. Following decades of high-profile activism for civil rights as an official of the NAACP, Rev. Barber now leads “The Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival,” an organization resurrected from the ashes of the Poor Peoples Campaign originally envisioned and led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the final year of his short life. Deeply inspired by Dr. King’s message of civil rights and economic justice, Senator Bernie Sanders leads the polls as America’s most popular political figure whose presidential campaign inspired tens of millions of Americans spanning a broad spectrum of generations, genders and races with his core message of economic justice, a page lifted unashamedly from the legacy of Dr. King.
Both conversationalists struck their favorite chords: Barber, the morality of civil rights and Sanders, the justice of economic equality. Both speakers resonated with their audience that burst into applause a countless number of times over the course of the two-hour moral, political and economic converzatione.
With his striking observations, Rev. Barber elevated the level of the political dialogue to that of a moral crusade reflecting not only on the positive moral value of sharing equally but also the amorality of the economic status quo haunted by the violent and macabre spectra of racism.
Referring to the now well-known facts of life in the USA of 2018, Senator Sanders wielded the data like a surgeon with a scalpel stating incisively, “The three wealthiest Americans own more than the bottom fifty percent.” The truth of the Senator’s statement struck the audience like a bullet in the bullseye. In one instant, the well-informed audience calculated the financial trinity of Gates, Buffett and Bezos who own, hold, treasure and covet more money than one-hundred and sixty million Americans combined. This shock brought the body to life.
Harkening to the pulse of history, Rev. Barber brought a new and far more critical focus to bear on the course of events welling up under the turgid political landscapes of America. Recalling the painful struggle from slavery to Civil War to Reconstruction, Rev. Barber presented a new model of American History, that of three ‘reconstructions’ – the nineteenth century, the Civil Rights Era and the present-day where people find themselves in a tumultuous period of time responding to the challenges crafted by Richard Nixon’s insidious Southern Strategy of racist politics of exclusion and unreasonable restrictions on the voting rights of racial minorities and Ronald Reagan’s and Jesse Helms’ onslaught against the very idea of racial justice for people of color.
Weaving their dual themes of morality and justice, through the warp and weft of America’s churning social discourse, the Barber and Sanders conversation shaped, molded, informed and inspired the audience of more than one-thousand alert, eager, intelligent, energized and now calibrated, synchronized and meshed minds to a higher and more harmonious key of political justice and economic morality.
The fusion of the Barber and Sanders movements gathers momentum mobilizing millions of new voters into a tsunami of historic proportions.
Michael Carmichael is an international consultant and a multidisciplinary scholar. Carmichael has worked in seven US presidential campaigns and conducted scientific research in Oxford UK for twenty-two years. He is the founder of Planetary Movement, an organization based in the USA and the UK representing a global network of scientists, scholars, physicians, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, advisors and correspondents.