Full text of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s Speech at Health Reform Rally at State Capitol in Raleigh, August 29, 2009.
If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves, pray and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and heal the land. (2d Chronicles 7:14)
We are here today because we need a healing in the land. We need those who want to perpetuate a sick health care system that is not for everybody and does not cover everybody to turn from their wicked ways. We are here today because we need a healing in the land.
It is ironic that 74 years ago in this same month of August, President Franklin Roosevelt was fighting to secure and sign the Social Security Act. Even then, the precursors of today’s forces of greed, selfishness, fear, and division were fighting him, and fighting reform and progressivism in America. They called it “socialism.” That’s what they said about Social Security. They said it would break America. They said that everybody should not be included.
In fact, these attacks weakened the first Social Security Act. The forces of greed, selfishness, fear, and division fought so hard, and bought so many souls, they forced coverage for the mostly Black, Hispanic and poor domestic and farm workers to be taken out of the Act before it was passed. It took 19 long years for these Americans to finally be covered when they turned 65 –if they made it to 65.
The forces of greed, selfishness, fear, and division have a long history of promoting a divided America. They are good at it. They are loud at it. And they are consistent at it.
But today we gather to say they have had their say. Now it is time for us who believe in a United America, a caring America, a compassionate America to speak up.