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Fall Convocation with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

11:00am - 12:30pmWait Chapel


Join the School of Divinity for Fall Convocation as we celebrate the official start of the new academic year. This year’s convocation speaker is Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Barber is the Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro; President of N.C. Conference of 100 Adult, Youth and Student NAACP branches in the largest State Conference in the South; Architect of the Moral Monday – Forward Together Movement; Convener of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Coalition; and Chair of the Political Action Committee of the National NAACP Board.

William’s address will also be the inaugural event of the Mac Bryan Prophetic Preaching Series.


Designated parking will be available for attendees on Davis Field, which is located adjacent to Scales Fine Arts Center. Signs indicating “Divinity Event Parking” will identify this lot. The entrance to Davis Field is located near the ZSR Library.

Parking will also be available in any “General Parking” lot on the campus of Wake Forest University. Please do not park in any lot designated for Faculty and Staff.

Review the WFU parking map for location of Davis Field and all general/visitor parking lots.                

About William J. Barber II

Rev. Dr. Barber was born in Indianapolis two days after the 1963 March on Washington.  His parents moved him from Indiana’s integrated kindergarten to the segregated kindergarten in his father’s black belt home in Washington County, a conscious act to desegregate NC’s dual school systems. His father was one of the first black teachers of physics and his mother was the first black office manager in a Washington County high school. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration at NC Central University; his master’s from Duke; and his doctorate from Drew University in public policy and pastoral care. 

Civil Rights and Progressive Movement-Building:  In 2005 Rev. Dr. Barber was elected President of the NC NAACP.  He quickly began the difficult job of transforming it into one of the largest membership-based progressive organizations in the state. In 2006 he gathered leaders of 16 progressive NC organizations to hammer out a 14-Point People’s Agenda; in February 2007 he convened the first Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Peoples Assembly to approve the Agenda and post it in front of the NC General Assembly on Jones Street. The original sweet 16 has now grown to over 200 partners, and it includes virtually every African American denomination, a majority of the predominantly white mainstream protestant denominations, thousands of Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Ethicists. The Forward Together Moral Movement has almost eight years of experience fighting with (and sometimes against) Democratic Party leaders in the General Assembly to win Same Day Registration, the Racial Justice Act, and building cross-racial unity in the  marriage equality fight.

Moral Mondays: In the face of regressive extremism. Rev. Dr. Barber, the NC NAACP, and the Forward Together Moral Movement that had been building for eight years, was ready to challenge the ultra-right’s efforts to return NC to the 1950’s.

In late April 2013 Rev. Dr. Barber, with 16 other ministers and activists, peacefully petitioned their representatives on Jones Street to stop the regressive attack. The General Assembly leaders had their police arrest the peaceful moral witnesses. Almost twice as many witnesses came the next Monday, and they too were thrown in jail. For 12 Mondays, the number of arrests grew and the number of supporters who came to sing, pray and cheer them on grew. By the end of the legislative session, 944 people had been arrested and about 25,000 people had participated in the Moral Mondays. Upwards of 80,000 people participated in the 8th HK on J Moral March on Raleigh in early 2014, the largest civil rights march ever in the south. The movement has held more than 117 events since 2013 in NC alone.

Rev. Dr. Barber practices what he preaches: He led the Greenleaf Christian congregation in analyzing and then buying the two-mile circle surrounding the church; in investing $1.5 million into building more than 60 homes for low-income families, a 41-unit senior citizens’ residence, a 90-student pre-school, an academic after-school, a computer lab for youth and adults, an HIV information and testing center, a Second Chance program for training formerly incarcerated men and women in the culinary arts, landscaping and technical jobs. 

A Few of Rev. Dr. Barber’s Honors

  • Honorary doctorate of human letters
  • Featured on CNN, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times
  • 2013 Person of Year several NC newspapers
  • Campaign for America’s Future, the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award

Over the past year Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II has received numerous awards and recognition to include: Named by The Center for American Progress; 14 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2014, Rev. Barber was listed as number one. He was presented The Martin Luther King Award by the National Education Association. And presented The President’s Award from Greensboro Branch of the NAACP. Rev Barber was awarded and named amongst the top 100 grassroots leaders in the nation for 2013 from the NBC Grio Blog.

About The Mac Bryan Prophetic Preaching Series

The Mac Bryan Prophetic Preaching Series was established at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in honor and memory of George McLeod “Mac” Bryan, Sr. (’41, MA ’44) by George (’61) and Carol  (’64) Williamson. Bryan was professor of religion and taught at the University for thirty-seven years after joining the religion faculty in 1956. He introduced courses on feminism, religion and science, medical ethics, and black and liberation theology. He fought tirelessly for Civil Rights, pursued social reform, and was instrumental in helping to integrate Wake Forest College in the 1960s. Bryan wrote several books on social justice, including These Few Also Paid a Price and Voices in the Wilderness.

Bryan had a lasting impact on the Williamsons. In talking about his impact, George paints a vivid picture, “ Mac’s character was to bring others along in his confident intention toward reform of the human folly for public injustice.” The series brings preachers and speakers to campus who will inspire students to live and serve at the intersection of Christianity and social justice.

The Williamsons are long-time supporters of Wake Forest and early advocates for the importance of the School of Divinity at Wake Forest.  Georg currently serves on the Board of Visitors for the School of Divinity.