12/21/08 — Kerr selected for Wall of Firsts

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Kerr selected for Wall of Firsts

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on December 21, 2008 2:00 AM

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Sen. John Kerr speaks as the Rev. William Barber holds a photo of him that will become part of the Wall of Firsts at Rebuilding Broken Places.

Retiring state Sen. John Kerr says he didn't know what to make of the Rev. William J. Barber the first time he met him.

"I thought to myself, 'Either this is the smartest man I've ever met, or he's a crook, and somebody's got to do something now,'" Kerr said, accompanying a jovial back-pat for the reverend.

But Barber, Kerr said, has more than proven his worth, and the only thing he worries now is that he will leave Goldsboro, where Kerr said Barber has done much good.

Saturday, Barber's organization, Rebuilding Broken Places Com-munity Development Corporation, said the same was true of Kerr.

"In (Kerr), we have always had someone fighting for eastern North Carolina," Barber said.

To honor that place in history, Barber and the members of Rebuilding Broken Places put a photo of Kerr on its "Wall of Firsts," a grouping of portraits covering a number of walls at the organization's headquarters.

The purpose for the photos, Barber said, is simple -- to keep alive the legacies of people who have contributed to eastern North Carolina and its communities and elsewhere.

"Children can come in and say, 'Who is that?'" Barber said. "And we can tell them."

Don Davis, senator-elect who will be taking over for Kerr after eight terms in the senate and three in the N.C. House of Representatives, was also in attendance.

Davis said Kerr is more than deserving of a spot on the community development corporation's wall, and said his shoes would be tough to fill.

"He's done so much for the district, and for Wayne County, and you know, we just have to be so appreciative of him," Davis said. "And I'm going to do everything I can" to match Kerr's legacy."

And Davis said he is ready to get to work.

"Let me say this, "We've been talking, and he's shared many of the things that were on his plate. I'm looking forward to picking up on a lot of these projects."

But the junior senator-to-be said that he was present on Saturday morning mostly to honor Kerr's legacy.

"The biggest thing is we're here today for his induction, and this is important," Davis said. "And the community should remember him as a servant's servant, as an outstanding leader who's championed the causes for so many residents."

And for his part, Barber said he and his organization, along with his church and the Goldsboro branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will continue its work in Goldsboro and the surrounding area.

"Eventually, we're going to get it right in this community," Barber said. "We're going to get it right with all of our children."