Dwight Hall to Feature the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II as 2023 Curran Distinguished Mentor

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II speaks to protesters gathered during a protest organized by Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign in Frankfort, Ky., Monday, June 4, 2018. Anti-poverty activists were denied group access to Kentucky’s Capitol following an outdoor rally that included a denunciation of the nation’s first work requirements for Medicaid. (AP

On April 4, the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II will deliver a public address as the 2023 Dwight Hall Jane and William E. Curran ’49 Distinguished Mentor. A social justice activist, pastor, and professor of the practice at Yale, Bishop Barber will deliver a moral call to action to Yale College students on the topic, “It’s Our Time: Every Generation is Called to Build a Movement”.  

Bishop Barber, D.Min., is a Professor in the Practice of Public Theology and Public Policy and Founding Director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School. 

Bishop Barber serves as President of Repairers of the Breach, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, and has been Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Goldsboro, North Carolina, for the past twenty-nine years.

Bishop Barber is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim in 2013 with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly. These weekly protests in response to regressive legislation being pushed through by extremist lawmakers drew tens of thousands of North Carolinians to the state legislature. Altogether, more than 1,050 peaceful protesters were arrested, handcuffed, or jailed in what historians have called the largest sustained civil disobedience campaign at a state legislature in U.S. history.

In 2015, Bishop Barber established Repairers of the Breach to train communities in moral movement building through the Moral Political Organizing Leadership Institute and Summit Trainings (MPOLIS). 

A highly sought-after speaker, Bishop Barber has given keynote addresses at hundreds of national and state conferences, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Bishop Barber is also regularly featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Nation magazine. He was named one of the 2019 recipients of the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor. He is also a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award recipient.

The Dwight Hall Curran Distinguished Mentor Program was established with a gift from William Curran ’49 in memory of his wife, Jane. The program recognizes leaders who have made remarkable contributions in public service and toward social justice and invites them to serve as mentors to Yale University students by sharing their expertise, experience, and insights.

As the 2023 Curran Distinguished Mentor, Bishop Barber joins a Dwight Hall tradition that has previously featured speakers like Dr. Elizabeth Alexander ’84, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Frances Beinecke ’71 ’74 M.F.S., former President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Students are encouraged to attend the address in person at Dwight Chapel, while alumni are invited to register for the Zoom simulcast of the event. 

Learn more and register for the April 4th address here

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