The Final Day of the Moral Week of Action Commits Advocates and Activists to Take Anger Over Regressive Policies and Turn It Into Action at the Pollsby Greater Diversity News September 9, 2014 0 comments
For seven days from Aug. 22 – Aug. 28, the North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Movement joined justice-loving groups across the nation in mobilizing for a Moral Week of Action at state capitols. "Fifty-eight years ago, Emmett Louis Till was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 for supposedly whistling at a white woman," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the NC NAACP. "His mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. Four months after Till's death and two months after the verdict let his white killers go free, Rosa Parks took the pain of the moment and turned it into power by sitting down on a bus and refusing to get up. Fifty-eight years ago, it was Rosa Parks' time. Now it's our time. If you are tired of seeing policies that hurt the poor and vulnerable, workers, public education, patients and the uninsured, you better raise your voice and cast your vote."
Thursday's Jericho March around the NC state capitol pulled together the social justice issues that people had rallied around all week into a specific set of policy proposals for the governor and the state legislature. But in the instance that Gov. Pat McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger continue to ignore the people's voices, the Vote Your Dreams, Not Your Fears – Mass Rally for Voting Rights prepared advocates to make themselves and their communities heard at the ballot box this November.
"Our strategy is clear," Dr. Barber said. "Our work is not done. Next week, the Moral March to the Polls will go on the road with in communities and college campuses all the way to November and beyond. And we will intensify our voter registration, education and mobilization efforts."
The marchers gathered for the final day of Jericho Marches at 3:30 pm on Aug. 28. In a nod to the biblical triumph over the towering walls of Jericho, the advocates marched seven times around the state capitol walls.
Later in the day, young people led the way back to the NC state capitol grounds where they began a five-hour sit-out and teach-in modeled after the 1964 Freedom Schools. Determined to retake the state capitol grounds for the people's use and hold their own legislative session of sorts, youth led and listened to workshops, performances and sessions from policy experts late into the night.
DISPATCHES: Thirteen other states joined North Carolina in holding Moral Week of Action campaigns at their state capitols!
Across the nation, justice-loving groups in 13 other states mobilized for similar actions at their state capitols at the end of August to protest the regressive Tea Party agenda that is rolling back civil and voting rights, attacking the poor and working classes, cutting public education, hurting women, immigrants, LGBT and youth, stripping away environmental protections, and putting corporate interests before the good of the whole.
For the Moral Week of Action, the North Carolina Forward Together Moral Monday Movement was joined by groups in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington.
SPOTLIGHT: Day 1 of the Moral Week of Action lifts up labor rights and workers!
Leading off the first day of the Moral Week of Action in North Carolina with energy and a fierce determination to make their voices hear, workers and activists marched on the North Carolina state capitol on Aug. 22.
The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement mobilized people from across the state to Raleigh to demand pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability by fighting for employment, living wages, the alleviation of disparate unemployment, a green economy, labor rights, affordable housing, targeted empowerment zones, strong safety net services for the poor, fair policies for immigrants, infrastructure development and fair tax reform.
"When workers win, their families win, our communities win, North Carolina wins," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP. Dr. Barber couldn't attend the march today, but stood in solidarity with the protest. "These persistent attacks on working people's rights is hurting real people in our state each and every day."
Although they recognized the long odds of convincing this extremist legislative leadership to raise the minimum wage or provide stronger worker protections, the workers remained committed to the fight.
"I make $8 an hour working at a drive-through," said Jesseia Jackson, a low-wage worker and one of the Tillis 15 who was arrested for participating in a sit-in Speaker Thom Tillis' office in May. "Our lawmakers need to listen to workers like us and pass laws that make our lives better, not worse. I am here to say to other workers, get involved and speak up for your rights. If we don't get involved, no one is going to stand up for us."
SPOTLIGHT: Education and criminal justice draws advocates to Raleigh for Day 2!
Teachers, parents and advocates marched and protested at the North Carolina state capitol on Aug. 23 to demand that legislators stop hurting North Carolina's children by underfunding their public schools and by failing to address systemic inequality in the criminal justice system.
The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement called people to Bicentennial Mall at 3 pm for a "Jericho march" and a press conference on the capitol steps. They demanded educational equality by ensuring every child receives a high quality, well-funded, constitutional, diverse public education and the need for fairness in the criminal justice system by addressing the continuing inequalities in the system and providing equal protection under the law for black, brown and poor white people.
"In an era of unprecedented rising poverty, when lawmakers are cutting school programs and positions, there is still always money for prisons and for the militarization of the police," said Todd Warren, an elementary school teacher in Guilford County. "If we can find money for tear gas in Ferguson or Durham, then we can find money for teaching assistants. As teachers, we stand with our kids and their parents as they fight for economic and racial justice."
Racial justice advocates too referenced the tragedy and trauma of Ferguson when making their case for a sea change in how the North Carolina criminal justice system targets people of color and aggressively incarcerates them, either in physical cells or through continued discrimination.
"It is criminal for college-educated prosecutors to coerce high-school educated people into plea bargains with long sentences," said Rev. Dr. Madeline McClenney-Sadler of Exodus.org. "It is criminal to ignore racial bias in the criminal justice system."
SPOTLIGHT: On Day 3, the Movement demands we make real its promise of equality under the law for all, regardless of sexual orientation or immigration status!
Members of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities marched around the NC capitol on Aug. 24 alongside the Forward Together Moral Movement to demand that state lawmakers ensure equal protection under the law in North Carolina, regardless of race, class, creed, gender, sexual orientation or immigration status.
"No document from human hands can make these humans any less our brother or our sister," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP. "There is not a rule they can pass, there is not an unholy piece of paper that suggests that you are not made equal in the eyes of God and that you should not be treated equally. We know both the Bible and the constitution. They both demand that we be treated by equal protection under the law. And no legislator or governor can ever change that."
During the press conference, advocates spoke about how closely the struggle for equal rights for the LGBT community related to other social justice fights. Advocates for Latino immigrants joined with their brothers and sisters in the LGBT communities to admonish the North Carolina General Assembly for isolating immigrants on the margins of society.
"Our community is under attack, and our families continue to be separated," said Oliver Merino, co-founder of the Dream Organizing Network. "It is time to put families over politics."
SPOTLIGHT: Youth lead Day 4 of the Moral Week of Action by critiquing all forms of violence in North Carolina
Young people led the charge on Day 4 of the Moral Week of Action as they denounced violence against young black, brown and poor people, both in Ferguson, Missouri, and here in North Carolina.
Drawing upon the words of Coretta Scott King, youth speakers focused not just on physical violence perpetrated by unaccountable, militarized and discriminatory police forces, but on the violence forced onto poor communities and people of color by state lawmakers who seek to deny them health care access, to roll back their voting rights and equal protection in the criminal justice system, and to withhold vital economic supports, whether by allowing poverty wages or by cutting back on social safety nets.
"We must understand this instance of violence in the larger context," said William Barber, III, 2nd vice president of the NC NAACP Youth & College Division and an NC NAACP Field Secretary. "If you are black, brown and poor, you are constantly subjected to a violent experience here in North Carolina. Not only are we gunned down in the streets, but we are also gunned down in the General Assembly – gunned down by regressive policies, gunned down by these attacks on our livelihoods."
SPOTLIGHT: Day 5 of the Moral Week lifts up women and their rights!
Day 5 of the Moral Week of Action mobilized women of all ages, races, creeds, and classes to march together around the NC state Capitol on Aug. 26 to demand an end to the state legislature's regressive attacks on women, their rights, their health, their families and their livelihoods.
"For too long, women have been put on the back of the bus of democracy – and black women in the way back," said O'Linda Gillis, Chair of the Women in the NC NAACP. "But we stand united here today, black, brown, and white to stand up. I am reminded of an old African proverb – when you strike a woman, you strike a rock."
Only a few minutes after the Forward Together Moral Movement and its supporters marched by the governor's office, chanting, clapping and waving signs, Gov. Pat McCrory's staff sent out an email at 3:45 pm proclaiming today to be 'Women's Equality Day' in North Carolina.
Just as the governor seemed to have missed the memo on last week's nationwide honoring of women's equality and activism, he and his allies in the state legislature continue to pass policies that marginalize, dismiss and neglect women's rights, their health and safety and their economic advancement.
"I'm here today to speak on behalf of all the North Carolina women who know what it is to struggle to build a better future for yourself and for your children," said Sheila Arias, a Durham mother of two with NC Moms Rising. "For the women who have seen our families' economic security threatened over and over again by the decisions being made here in Raleigh. North Carolina leaders are sending the wrong message to parents working hard to better themselves and create opportunities for their families."
SPOTLIGHT: Health Advocates and Environmental Activists march for the health of all North Carolinians on Day 6 of the Moral Week!
Health advocates and environmental activists stood side by side to demand that the North Carolina General Assembly stop its attacks on the health of its most vulnerable communities, whether by refusing the Medicaid expansion, cutting back on health care services or giving corporations the green light to poison our environment.
Recently, the governor criticized the Moral Monday Movement for not presenting positive, specific items that he could act upon. On Aug. 27, the activists had an easy one for him – accept the federal Medicaid expansion.
Even a Republican mayor stood behind the NC NAACP seal this afternoon to call upon members of his party to make the common-sense decision and expand Medicaid.
Thank you! We love you! •
As I mentioned yesterday in Raleigh on Bicentennial Mall, it is important that we know who is is fighting for us in the courts. We want to take this time to send a special thank you to our Attorneys and fellow plaintiffs who are continuously fighting for our fundamental freedom to vote in this great state of North Carolina.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
President of the North Carolina NAACP
& the Forward Together Moral Movement
NC A. Philip Randolph Institute
League of Women Voters of NC
Southern Coalition for Social Justice (Anita Earls, Allison Riggs)
Voter Suppression Case
Emmanuel Baptist Church
New Oxley Hill Baptist Church
Bethel A. Baptist Church
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church
Barbee's Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Inc.
Maria Teresa Unger Palmer
Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
UP NEXT: Join us today for a Labor Day – Moral Monday!
Labor Day – Moral Monday Caravan
Monday, Sept. 1
Raleigh – 9 am
201 S. Dawson St, Raleigh
Greensboro – 12 pm
Beloved Community Center
417 Arlington St, Greensboro
Charlotte – 5:30 pm
800 E. Third St, Charlotte
The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement are standing with workers from across the state this Labor Day as they speak up for labor unions and workers' protections on the day that bears their name. In partnership with the NC AFL-CIO, the NC NAACP will be taking Moral Monday on the road on Monday, Sept. 1 for a three-city tour, starting in Raleigh, stopping in Greensboro and culminating in a mass rally in Charlotte.
Dr. Barber will ride beside the NC AFL-CIO members and workers on the #TalkUnion caravan to draw attention to the devastating attacks that the North Carolina state legislature has waged on working families, low-wage workers, the poor and the unemployed. In Greensboro, the caravan will hold another press conference at the Beloved Community Center before picking up more supporters and advocates for the trip to Charlotte.
In Charlotte, the Forward Together Movement will hold a Moral Monday – Labor Day mass rally at 5:30 pm in Marshall Park to lift up workers' voices and hear from moral leaders on why North Carolina needs to embrace its working people by passing laws that support their livelihoods and their families.