1000 x 90

Watauga NAACP, Partners Talk Moral March at St. Luke’s, Announce Bus Rides To Raleigh on Feb. 11

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Rev. Cynthia Banks opens the press conference with a prayer. Photos by Jesse Wood

By Jesse Wood


The Watauga County chapter of the NAACP held a press conference at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church about the upcoming 11th annual Moral March on Raleigh and HKonJ People’s Assemble on the following Saturday, Feb. 11.

Laura Ashton, Western Field Secretary for the N.C. NAACP, read a statement from the organization’s president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who initially planned to attend the press conference but couldn’t after it was rescheduled because of the recent snowstorm.

Here is Barber’s statement:

“The themes of this year’s march is …

Standing against the repeal of the life-saving Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare

Standing against the legislative tyranny of our extremist-led General Assembly

Standing against the racist and unconstitutional gerrymandering which undermines the vote of all North Carolinians

Standing against the anti-family, anti-worker, and anti-LGBTQ Hate Bill 2 which has been used to divide our communities through fear-mongering and political opportunism

Standing against the extremism and lies of Trumpism. They have undermined our Democracy and democratic institutions by making regressive federal appointments and inviting white nationalists into the White House. They have demonized our immigrant and Muslim brothers and sisters by building a wall on our Mexican border, pushing through an Executive Order which effectively bans many refugees and Muslims from our country and blaming Latinos for voter fraud that does not exist.”

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Rev. Cynthia Banks opened the press conference with a prayer, while High Country United Church of Christ Pastor Tamara Franks closed the meeting with a moment of silence to “hold up a vision of a land of morality.”

Also speaking at the press conference on Friday were Amy Adams, N.C. Program Director at Appalachian Voices; Watauga NAACP President Todd Carter; and Zach Kopkin, a graduate student at Appalachian State in the Appalachian Studies program.

Carter read a letter from Jeff Block, who used to work at Grandfather Academy in Banner Elk until he became his wife’s full-time caregiver after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Read their story here. 

They live solely on social security payments, and he has health insurance from the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Block cited expected cuts in Social Security and dismantling of Obamacare by the Trump administration.

“Some call this moral, I call it theft from the sick and infirmed,” wrote Block, who railed against politicians, lobbyists and insurance companies.

Kopkin, a graduate student at App State, mentioned that App State students elected its first all-black Student Government Association presidential ticket and that Chancellor Sheri Everts became the first woman chancellor in Boone in 2014.

“Despite leaders’ efforts of tolerance, division persists at ASU and throughout UNC, enabled by extremist elected officials,” Kopkin said, adding that as a person of privilege, he intends to march with the moral movement until “voting rights, healthcare and basic human dignity triumph.”

Adams with Appalachian Voices will also be marching in Raleigh in a week or so. She said she would be marching for environmental stewardship and environmental justice.

“The people who live, work and play in America’s most polluted communities are commonly people of color and the poor,” Adams said. “When you find negative impacts like coal ash waste, burning of coal from the blasting away of the Appalachian mountains, when you find that toxic storage dump and find that unsafe drinking water, when they do find a contamination issue, the cleanup crew is just a little bit slower in communities of color and the poor.”

Adams said that corporations specifically target these communities because they’ve determined it’s easier to achieve the permits, purchase the land and exploit already-marginalized folks than trying to do that in upper-class, primarily-white communities. She also blasted the process of corporations buying access to politicians in an effort to have favorable laws passed and regulations approved

“So I hope on Feb. 11, you will get on the bus and I will see you there … as we stand for our passions and for the state of North Carolina,” Adams said. “I’ll see you in the streets on Saturday.”

The Watauga branch of NAACP announced that they offering a free separate bus ride to Raleigh for Appalachian State University students on the morning of Feb. 11. Otherwise, spots on a 55-seat coachliner cost $40. Reservation details are located at Watauga NCAAP Facebook page.

Details of the Moral March, Buses To Raleigh

WHO: Watauga Branch of the NC NAACP & Appalachian Voices

WHAT: 11th Annual Moral March on Raleigh and HKonJ People’s Assembly

WHEN: Saturday, February 11th, 2017, Gather at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE: The Corner of Wilmington and South Streets Near Shaw University, 2 East South St. Raleigh, NC

The 11th annual Moral March on Raleigh & HKonJ People’s Assembly on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 in Raleigh, NC. People will gather at 8:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 9 a.m.

The Moral March on Raleigh is an event led by Rev. Dr. Barber and the North Carolina NAACP in collaboration with over 200 social justice organizations, non-profits, faith centers, and members of the Divine Nine. Tens of thousands of people will come from across North Carolina and the country to attend this important event.

In addition to the free bus taking App State students, the Watauga branch will be taking a separate bus to the Moral March and have invited anyone from Watauga, Ashe, Avery, and Wilkes counties to join them.

For more information, please contact Todd Carter, info@watauganaacp.org.

See photos of press conference on Friday.

Watauga NAACP President Todd Carter speaks 
Most of the folks that attended the press conference stood behind the speakers and held signs.


Laurel Ashton – Western Field Secretary for NAACP




Amy Adams of Appalachian Voices, North Carolina Cleaning Up Coal Ash Program Manager, speaks.
High Country United Church of Christ Pastor Tamara Franks spoke, led moment of silence to “hold up a vision of a land of morality.”