North Carolina Leads Way for State-by-State Showdown with GOP
By Cash Michaels
RALEIGH, N.C. (NNPA) – A month before the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, often viewed as the defining moment of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement for freedom, justice and equality, modern-day civil rights leaders are mobilizing again.
But this time, the strategy to combat the systematic rollback of hard-earned civil and human rights, though national in nature, is being played out on a state-by-state basis.
Leading the way in that effort is Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP. For 10 straight Mondays, beginning April 29, Rev. Barber and his multi-racial, multi-generational progressive coalition partners have conducted massive “Moral Monday” demonstrations at the North Carolina Legislative Building. Thousands of people from across the state, more than half of them White, have religiously come to Raleigh to loudly, but nonviolently protest what they call the “regressive” policies of the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly, policies that have cut tens of thousands off from unemployment benefits, and prevented hundreds of thousands from receiving Medicaid funds.
Last week, North Carolina made national headlines again when the state Senate combined a bill outlawing Muslim Sharia law with a measure severely restricting abortion access, passing it without notice or public hearings. Hundreds of women, outraged by the late night vote, converged on the legislature the following day, shouting “Shame on you.” The bill is a product of the Legislature’s Christian conservative extremists.
It’s been no secret since the Republicans took over North Carolina’s General Assembly and governor’s office in the 2012 elections that it would take a massive statewide movement to counter their conservative agenda.
Enter the North Carolina NAACP and Moral Mondays. Thus far, the demonstrations have put mounting pressure on the GOP majority. Their goal – to hold Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP leadership accountable for their policies by having citizens arrested during the demonstrations – right now numbering more than 700.
Rev. Barber says the success of “Moral Mondays” means North Carolina is the test tube for a new national progressive movement against conservative policies that must be fought state-by-state by homegrown leaders.
“These fights are now state fights, and that’s the dynamic,” Rev. Barber explains. “The fight has to be getting legal and other resources into the states, because that’s where the litigation is going to [happen].”