Technically called the MacArthur Fellows Program, the "genius grants" have been awarded since 1981 to individuals "working in any field," who have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction." The award comes with a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 paid over five years.
Reportedly, Rev. William Barber, who until recently headed the NC NAACP, celebrated the announcement of the honor by doing something wholly typical of him: He got arrested in a demonstration for fair wages in Chicago in front of McDonalds headquarters.
One of Rev. Barber's genius innovations: He launched Moral Mondays at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013 to shine a public light on the many bad things the new Republican majority was doing to the citizens of this state -- voting rights, education funding, LGBTQ rights and other regressive legislation.
He's a powerful speaker and a natural leader. I've heard him many times including when he spoke on the Jones House lawn in 2014 and again in 2016 on the campus of Appalachian State University. He regularly delivered the sermon at the HKonJ assembly in Raleigh ("Historic Thousands on Jones Street," where the General Assembly meets).
He has always lifted my heart.