Former Executive Director Of North Carolina NAACP Challenges Incumbent Price for U.S. House of Representativesby Greater Diversity News March 21, 2018 0 comments
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – If successful in her congressional campaign, Rev. Dr. Michelle Laws will make history as the 3rd African American and woman of color to represent North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives. Laws is challenging long-term incumbent Congressman David Price to represent North Carolina’s 4th Congressional district. Price was first elected in 1987.
Laws acknowledges that unseating Price, white male and favorite of the party, will be an up-hill battle but says she is “fearless, fit for the challenge, and focused on winning.”
“Even though this is a primary and technically the Democratic leadership and party elites shouldn’t have weights on the scale but should let the voters within our base select who they want to lead, I am receiving some surprising resistance from among some within the Democratic Party’s elite inner circle. However, I am also receiving personal calls and support from some within that circle who are expressing their support and gladness that I have entered the race. Most importantly, I am inspired each and every day by the overwhelming support I am getting from two critical segments of our base—young people, the middle-class and poor, LGBTQ, and people of color. Essentially people who have been left on the outside of our so called ‘big tent’ who are hoping and looking for real change.”
Democratic Party’s playbook
Laws attributes the power moves from the Democratic Party’s playbook that anoints and hand selects leaders that they want to represent them as a systemic problem that the party must overcome. “We simply can’t afford to continue to lose segments of our base because of leadership not willing to do an honest and critical assessment of what is best for everyone, not just the party elite.”
Laws says that her campaign is on the ground working hard to inspire a revolution within the party and to renew hope and faith in the Democratic Party. “I still believe that the Democratic Party offers the best solutions to many of the social, economic, domestic, and foreign policy issues confronting our nation today. We simply need to elect new leaders to articulate our policy agenda and to advocate for the people. We don’t have a message problem, we have a messenger problem.”
Third African American woman to represent North Carolina in Congress
If Dr. Laws wins she will become the third African American woman to represent North Carolina in Congress—the first was Eva Clayton and the second Alma Adams.
“There has been an awakening of sorts among women of color, in particular Black women. There are many Black women around this country who are no longer willing to be the mules of the party, doing the hard work on the ground, and receiving very little in return in terms of support and endorsement of the party to serve in key leadership positions. It is almost insulting to me when someone asks me to stand down and allow David to retire on his own terms. For starters, I remind them that the seat is not David’s seat; it is the people’s seat and we should never dissuade an active and engaged citizenry during a primary contest.”
Laws says that perhaps what is most troubling are people who say “wait, it’s not your turn.”
Working faithfully and diligently for the party
“As a black woman who was born into the Democratic Party and chose to remain when I could make the decision for myself, I have paid a high interest on my dues. I have worked faithfully and diligently for the party, from grassroots organizing to get out the vote, serving as a precinct chair, giving speeches to support the party’s slate of candidates in almost every election cycle; essentially supporting the party in any and every way. I have spent my entire career fighting for vulnerable, ignored and forgotten population’s especially poor and working-class women and children and those whom Derrick Bell labeled as ‘the faces at the bottom of the well’ and I am now ready to stand and lead the same fight in Washington,” says Laws. “Standing up to the party elite and “reclaiming my time” within the Democratic Party is in my DNA. There is too much at stake and before I leave the party, I will fight to save the party,” says Laws.
Laws is a native of Chapel Hill, NC. She holds a BA degree in Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a MA degree in Sociology from North Carolina Central University (Magna Cum Laude graduate) and a PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Department of Health Behavior and Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (Phi Kappa Phi honor inductee). She was the first woman to serve as president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and worked alongside Rev. Dr. William Barber as the Executive Director of the NC NAACP. She has spent more than three decades advocating for poor women and children and as a social justice activist. As a result of her steadfast commitment to human and women’s rights, many have compared my courage and political acumen to that of the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm “unbought and unbossed.” And, she attributes much of her political prowess to her Godmother, the late Senator Jeanne Lucas, the first black woman to serve in the North Carolina senate.
She has worked in policy positions throughout her career including serving as the legislative liaison for the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services; research and policy assistant for the NC Commission on Juvenile Crime and Justice, working under the supervision of Attorney Marcia Morey who now serves in the NC House; and as a campaign secretary for Maryland Congressman Albert Wynn.