Civil-rights champion Bishop Henry Barnwell dies at 83 – Arizona News

Civil-rights champion Bishop Henry Barnwell dies at 83 – Arizona News

‘If there was a crisis or problem or need, he was there.’

It didn’t matter if you were awake or not: If Bishop Henry Barnwell graced you with one of his 5 a.m. phone calls, you answered it.

“He was the only one in the community who could do that and get away with it, because you knew it had to be about something imperative,” said former state legislator Leah Landrum Taylor, a longtime friend of the south Phoenix pastor.

“If it was a positive cause, he’d be right there to move it forward. If it was some sort of tiff, he’d be right there as a peacemaker,” she said. “He would bring together the most eclectic groups of individuals.”

Barnwell — known for both his civil-rights activism and religious service — worked behind the scenes in Phoenix for decades, pushing for equality and cooperation between politicians and faith leaders until the last months of his life.

The 83-year-old died of dementia-related complications at his home Sept. 9.

“If there was a crisis or problem or need, he was there,” said former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, who met Barnwell in the late ’70s and collaborated with him on numerous causes.

“If he saw hunger, he would call and say, ‘Ed, we have families to feed and we’re having a drive.’ With politics, he would bring candidates to this church and say, ‘Where are you on these positions?’ “…

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