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Chapter 2.

The Seven Sins of Inequality

In this chapter, watch the video of Rev. Barber’s homily and learn:

  • The “seven sins” of structural oppression and how they were created in the U.S. 

  • How they manifest today 

  • And how understanding their roots can help dismantle the ecology of inequality.

Stolen Hands, Stolen Lands: From 1619 to a Just Future

A graphic reads "Stolen Hands, Stolen Lands: A People's Observance for a Just Future" over a collage of historical images, with the logo of 400 Years, Union Theological Seminary, and The Riverside Church.

On Sunday, October 20th, 2019 the 400 Years of Inequality National Organizers partnered with Union Theological Seminary and The Riverside Church to host an observance featuring song, dance, music, historical speeches, and a homily delivered by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.

The many contributions and voices that came together embody the moral fusion coalition that Rev. Barber fervently calls for in his homily. You can find a full account of the program here.

Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lenape strikes a small hand drum behind a podium.
Reverend James Forbes speaks from a podium.
Robin Reese and Molly Rose Kaufman read from music stands.
Bob Fullilove reads aloud.
Two women - Yara Allen and Reverend Shyrl Uzzell smiling, singing, and clapping.
Six readers stand at music stands; Michael Roberson, Gia Love, Robin Reese, Molly Rose Kaufman, Destyn Martin, and Sandra Montes.
Reverend Ken Alston sings Wade in the Water while bathed in blue light.
Ruth Messinger looks at the audience behind a podium.
Joey Guidre plays bassoon next to three seated drummers, Chioneso Bakr, Victor See Yuen, and Hasan Bakr who sings.
Debbie Almontaser reads from a podium.
Dr. Aliou Niang holds a ceremonial bowl.
Salieu Suso plays the kora while singing and smiling.

Top Left to Bottom Right: Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lenape; Reverend James Forbes; Robin Reese and Molly Rose Kaufman; Dr. Robert E. Fullilove; Yara Allen and Reverend Shyrl Uzzell; Michael Roberson, Gia Love, Robin Reese, Molly Rose Kaufman, Destyn Martin, and Dr. Sandra Montes; Reverend Ken Alston; Hon. Ruth Messinger; Joey Guidre, Chioneso Bakr, Victor See Yuen, and Hasan Bakr; Dr. Debbie Almontaser; Dr. Aliou Niang; Salieu Suso.

Reverend Barber delivers a sermon.

The Reverend William J. Barber II

A color portrait of Reverend Barber.


William J Barber II

Photo courtesy of Repairers of the Breach.

The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II is a civil rights advocate and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival; President & Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach; Bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary; Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina; and the author of four books. He served as the President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP from 2005 - 2016 and as a re-elected National Board Member, appointed as the National NAACP Chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee. Under his leadership, the NAACP developed a new voter registration/participation system that registered more than 442,000 new voters and provided access to 1.5 million voters.


Rev. Dr. Barber is also the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly. These weekly actions drew tens of thousands of North Carolinians and other moral witnesses to the state legislature where more than 1,200 peaceful protesters were arrested, handcuffed and jailed. On September 12, 2016 Rev. Dr. Barber led a “Moral Day of Action,” the largest coordinated action on state capitals in U.S. history, calling for state governments to embrace a moral public policy agenda. On February 11, 2017, he led the largest moral march in North Carolina state history, with over 80,000 people calling on North Carolina’s elected officials to embrace a moral public policy agenda. On June 20, 2020 he led the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering with 2.5 million online attendees. 

The 400 Years of Inequality National Organizing Committee recommended reading one of Barber’s books, "The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement" as a core text in 2019 for preparing observances, and is still poignant and important today as an example of how organizing a moral fusion coalition can fight inequality and transform our nation for the better.


Adapted from  and

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