If you had only 48 hours of breath left, what would you fight for?” the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II asked. Barber joined “Conversations With The Nation” hosted by Katrina vanden Heuvel on April 22 to speak about the severe racial, economic, and social inequalities in the United States that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown into stark relief.

“Pandemics exploit those inequalities. What this pandemic has been for this nation in some ways is kind of like the dye they put in your body when you go to get an X-ray.” He expressed disgust that the four coronavirus stimulus bills Congress has passed do not begin to adequately protect the least among us. “This magazine in its founding in some ways raised this question or this concern, and that is, that one of the ugly psychoses of America that we continue to see played out in this moment is when too many in power are too comfortable with other people’s death.”

The reverend called on Nation readers to join him and thousands of others online on June 20 for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington to raise up the voices of 140 million poor and low-wealth people across the United States. “I believe in many ways that the only hope for this country, those who are dying, who’ve seen others die, to begin to stand up and say, ‘If it takes our last breath we’re not going to accept this America. We’re not going to accept people being comfortable, too comfortable with other people’s death. We have to be better than this.’”

Conversations With The Nation is a weekly virtual series that helps to support rigorous progressive journalism at a critical moment in our history. Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, Nation justice correspondent Elie Mystal, and Nation sports editor Dave Zirin have joined us. Sign up for our Nation event newsletter to receive new speaker announcements.

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