Social Activist Dr. Barber II to Speak at UT Lecture Series

The University of Toledo named Dr. William J. Barber II to be the featured lecturer for the annual Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture Series.

The 2023 Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture is on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7 pm at Doermann Theatre. The public is welcome to this free event, hosted by the College of Arts and Letters. ASL interpreters will also be provided.

Dr. William J. Barber is a renowned social activist. He pastored Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina for 30 years and is the founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School, one of the twelve schools at Yale University.

Philosopher Dr. Cornel West described Dr. Barber as “the closest person we have to Martin Luther King Jr. in our midst.”

In 2018, Dr. Barber co-relaunched the Poor People’s Campaign, which was first created by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 to fight against poverty in America.

According to its website, the re-launched Poor People’s Campaign is working to fight poverty and systemic racism across the nation.

Barber also founded Repairs of the Breach, another activist organization committed to bring social change.

“Barber’s committed activism [has] both prefigured and contributed to the rebirth of direct-action protest in the 21st century, a powerful and important legacy for young people today who dare to believe a better world is possible,” Dr. Michael Stauch, an assistant professor at University of Toledo said.

The Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture Series was created in the name of Dr. Edward Shapiro, a University of Toledo economics professor who retired in 1989. He left an endowment to the University so they could bring in distinguished lecturers to speak in Toledo. Over his lifetime, Dr. Shapiro donated more than four million dollars to the school.

Past lecturers include Tony Kushner, Rhiannon Giddens, Toni Morrison and Audra Mcdonald.

For more information on the lecture, visit