“Dr. Barber is the closest thing we have to Martin Luther King Jr. alive today, especially with his ideals," he said.
Holmes said he expected to hear a well thought out plan with solutions.
"That’s the kind of man I see Barber as, a man that comes with issues but also ways that we can fix it,” he said.
Barber began his speech by identifying some of America's current problems.
“We are not just facing a political problem but rather a heart problem," he said. "The heart and soul of democracy is in trouble. We must help to find the diseases that threaten our political life.”
Barber said President Donald Trump is in a new position from previous commander-in-chiefs because he followed the first black president of the United States.
"Looking at United States history, this should have never happened," he said, drawing on an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates. "Trump’s entire presidency is him working with all the progress Obama had made in the United States before him. So we must call Trump what he truly is, the first white president of these United States.”
Barber then offered solutions to these problems.
“What if we could organize 30,000 people in civil disobedience across the country? I believe we can shift the moral narrative and we can bring up a third reconstruction and save the heart of America,” he said.
Patrick Boyle, a senior economics and mathematical decision sciences major at UNC, attended Barber's speech because of Barber's reputation in North Carolina and his role in state politics.
“Before I came here, I expected Barber's speech to be more problem-filled and inspirational, but a lot of it was actually him talking about the problems in America followed by solutions to those problems," he said. "That is something very special to me.”
Katz said he thought Barber was the perfect speaker because he is working to heal the country and redefine citizenship.
“To me personally, watching Barber speak at UNC gave me hope that there is a way forward and a way forward together."