Everyone has a story; I believe mine is still being written. My name is Rebekah Barber and I am currently a sophomore attending North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC with hopes of becoming a civil rights attorney. I am the daughter of Rev. Dr William Barber II, the leader of the NC NAACP.
I find it important to give this context because growing up in my father’s house greatly molded me into the person I am today, even though I did not always realize this. Both of my parents instilled in me and my siblings the importance of being respectful to everyone. They taught us to work hard in school and always strive for the best education. And most of all, they taught us to always use our education and anything else we have to somehow be a blessing to others.
When I was only a year and a half years old, I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. I had too much water in my brain, put simply. I had the ability to be operated on at one of the most renowned hospitals in the world, Johns Hopkins, I was saved, partially because I had healthcare, and partially because I had parents with great faith who would not let just anyone operate on their daughter.
As I look at the world today, I realize I am here for a reason. I am here to help others.
Because I have a preexisting condition, I feel I should demand rights for others with preexisting conditions. Because I am a minority, I feel I should fight for the rights of other minorities. And because I know what it is like to feel alone, when I see my brother or sister being isolated, especially for something they cannot help, I need to stand by them.
Some people, particularly those considered to be on top, have either lost sight of the idea of “helping others” or were never taught it at home. See, being an American today means living in a country with great possibilities, a country that has always had great possibilities.
I believe America has the potential to end poverty. America has the potential to give every child a quality education. And, America has the potential to ensure that everyone receives the best healthcare, regardless of their income level or presence of a preexisting condition.
And it is my American Dream that America will reach its full potential. My dream is that we will no longer coexist in a country with racism, classism, sexism or any other form of bigotry, but we will simply live together, helping each other along the way. When we recognize that we each have our struggles, then we will be united.
Of course a lot of harmful things such as the 2008 financial crisis occur simply because the top 1% chooses to behave however they please, but I refuse to believe that the bottom 99% cannot counteract these actions with the power of the ballot.
Despite everything that is going on, I am hopeful that we will reach this American dream. I guess it is because I am naturally an optimistic person. I think this is because of my faith. Of course, I was raised in a religious household. I grew up believing in God, the God that many claim to follow, despite the fact that their actions do not always show it.
I believe in a God who requires us first and foremost to “do justice love mercy and walk humbly before the Lord.”
I believe in a God who could take a girl, struggling with her self-esteem, who some might even called brain-damaged because of her preexisting condition, and give her hopes and dreams and allow her to excel in college, and want nothing more than to help others.
I believe in a God who is standing behind the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, who has His hands on my father and us all, who could gather 80,000 people at Jones Street to march together on a cloudy day, and just as everyone’s hands are joined together at the pinnacle of the day, could allow the sun to shine over us all, letting us know that one day, hopefully very soon, we shall overcome.
Top photo: My father, Rev. Dr William Barber II, and me at a Moral Monday event.
Bottom photo: My older sister, Sharrelle, and me at a Moral Monday event.
Please support Story of America with a tax deductible donation.