photo by Dominic Gwinn

Yesterday the Rev. Dr. William Barber II was in Chicago protesting in front of the McDonald's headquarters. The 55-year-old pastor from North Carolina stood with local elected officials to support striking fast food workers fighting to raise the minimum wage. As Rev. Barber was being arrested by Chicago police along with 54 others, he was notified that he'd just been named a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and awarded $625,000.

See? Sometimes it PAYS to be a social justice warrior!

One of the most recognizable figures in the modern protest movement, Rev. Barber has encouraged tens of thousands of people all over the country to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. Whether it's the #FightFor15, immigration reform, supporting public education, or ending racial discrimination, Rev. Barber keeps popping up with obnoxious protesters and marching through the streets in cities across America. It's as if nobody bothered to CC him that memo about all the evil political plans he's ruining. And now some George Soros social justice league is giving him money!

Barber has been helping to train local activists since 2014 when he founded Repairers of the Breach in response to the Republican takeover of the North Carolina legislature. Since then, Barber has helped train protesters and organizers to harass city halls with Moral Mondays. He's also the co-founder of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, based on Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 campaign, that fights systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation. In announcing the award, the MacArthur Foundation said Barber was "merging moral and activist traditions," and "providing a faith-based framework for action that strengthens civic engagement and inspires the country to imagine a more humane society." TLDR: He created super-hippies.

The MacArthur Foundation is one of those do-gooder groups that funds NPR commercials and pays off student loans for liberal arts majors. Each year they give out a ton of money to help scientists, researchers, creatives, human rights advocates, and other nerds to keep doing whatever it is they do that makes the world a better place. There's no strings attached, these elitists just hand out a wad of cash and a fancy card that says they're the bees knees, and to play nice.

When the Raleigh News and Observer reached out to Barber, he stated that he was "thankful and humbled and overwhelmed and more committed than ever. Awards should only serve to push you to continue doing the work of justice. We planned this (protest) months ago, standing with working people. Maybe me getting arrested today was a metaphor."

In all there were 25 people who received MacArthur awards this year. They range from opera prodigies, journalists, urban farmers, and a podcaster. There's Vijay Gupta, the 31-year-old violinist who spends his free time playing in Skid Row, a project to map accessible legal aid for low-income people, and a journalist documenting abuses perpetrated by the West Virginia coal industry. While we're only SLIGHTLY pissed that we were passed over (again), all these people are doing amazing work that makes the world suck a whole lot less. MAZEL TOV.

[WaPo / NPR / Raleigh News & Observer / Windy City Times]

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.


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