July 16, 2013. Over 5,000 North Carolinians from across the state gathered for the 11th Moral Monday demonstration. It was the largest crowd to date with over 100 people engaging in civil disobedience to emphasize opposition to the devastating policies of the legislature.
A multiracial crowd rallied outside of the General Assembly, and packed two floors inside of the building, to protest regressive bills pushed by Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislative leadership. This week’s rally emphasized the leadership of women and opposition to restrictions on, women’s health, kicking 500,000 people off of Medicaid, 175,000 people off unemployment and giving tax breaks to the very wealthy while raising taxes on 900,000 North Carolinians who received the earned income tax credit.
Thousands wore stickers in honor of Trayvon Martin, the young teen killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted of Martin’s murder and several speakers decried the unequal justice that still plagues our nation.
Rosanell Eaton, a 92-year-old woman recalled having to recite the preamble to the U.S. constitution before being allowed to vote decades ago. “And now we have to fight to protect our right to vote all over again,” she said. “We need to be fired up and fed up.”
“Women’s voices are being raised today not just on reproductive choice but on the full slate of policies that will harm the vast majority of North Carolina’s hard working families,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP. “Our constitution calls for our Governor to serve all the people for the good of the whole. Instead we have an avalanche of extreme, expensive and immoral polices that only serve the wealthiest few and will devastate our communities.”
One woman from Asheville, NC said she and her brother were unemployed and had lost their benefits. Her niece and nephew were disabled and losing Medicaid. “What are we supposed to do?” she asked before being led off in handcuffs.
Highlighting the interconnected nature of the movement, Melissa Reed, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, noted last week that she and other women’s health advocates were there for reasons beyond the Senate bill passed last week to drastically restrict abortion.
“Don’t believe for a minute that we are here just because of their sneak attack last week. We have been here every week,” said Reed. “We know that when you work on suppressing the vote, you hurt women. Sixty-six percent of eligible voters are women without a photo ID. … When you eliminate unemployment benefits, you hurt women. Over 30,000 women lost their unemployment benefits last Monday. So we know what’s at stake.”
The next Moral Monday on July 22 will focus on voting rights. North Carolina, which once had one of the most accessible voting systems in the country, is passing a compendium of laws that will make it more difficult for the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities, youth and people of color to vote.
“Elections are the one day we are all equal in America. Our voting system must be free, fair and accessible,” said Penda Hair, Co-Director of Advancement Project, a civil rights organization that has brought legal action against restrictive voting laws around the nation. “North Carolina is moving the clock back to a time when voting was only available to some not to all. By denying people their right to vote, North Carolina is undermining the very bedrock of our democracy.”
Barber also announced initiatives planned beyond Moral Mondays, timed around the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, on August 28 including a major effort to register new voters. On the Wednesday after the commemorative march in Washington, there will be 13 mass organizing rallies in each of the congressional districts in North Carolina.
The policy numbers that Moral Monday speakers emphasized included:
- 70,000: number of long-term unemployed North Carolinians who lost federal emergency unemployment benefits as of Sunday, June 30, because of the actions of the General Assembly
- 100,000: number of additional long-term unemployed workers who will lose federal emergency unemployment benefits by the end of the year
- 0: amount in dollars it would have cost the state to extend emergency unemployment benefits
- 907,000: number of low-wage workers in North Carolina who claimed the state Earned Income Tax Credit in 2011
- 500,000: number of low-income adults denied health care coverage because of the decision to refuse the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act
- $242.5 million: amount that the Senate budget falls short of spending enough to keep current service levels for children in school and college students
- 17,500: number of slots for at-risk four-year-olds that the Senate budget eliminates from the North Carolina Pre-K program over the next two years
- 1: number of cases of voter impersonation fraud that occurred in North Carolina in the last 12 years, out of 21 million people who voted, according to the State Board of Elections
- 500,000: number of North Carolinians who do not currently have a government-issued photo ID
NC Women To Get Arrested Over Attacks on Women’s Rights, Criminal Justice, Voting, and Economic Rights by Extremist Legislature
July 15, 2013. The injustice of the Trayvon Martin verdict will be a major issue at the mass rally today in front of the North Carolina General Assembly, at which women will form the center of attention and engage in civil disobedience.
“Women will speak out on criminal injustice, unemployment, poverty, Medicaid, voting rights, women’s rights and education from a moral and constitutional perspective,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP. “They will not only lift up the devastating impact of the General Assembly’s regressive policies on women of all races and backgrounds, but to emphasize the importance of women leadership for the Movement.”
The mass rally will be held on Halifax Mall at 5:00 pm and will uplift the devastating impact of the NC General Assembly’s policies regarding women and voting rights, economic justice, poverty and jobs, healthcare, public education and criminal justice. During the rally, some participants will engage in civil disobedience.
The North Carolina NAACP is also announcing the following next steps for the Forward Together Movement:
- Voting rights will headline the 12th Wave of protests on July 22, and their impact on public education and criminal justice.
- The 13th Wave will be an interfaith assembly on July 29. A permit for the State Capitol facing Fayetteville Street has been submitted.
- Throughout the month of August, local Moral Mondays will take place in select cities and communities across the state.
- Each of the growing number of Moral Monday participants will be asked to register 50 people.
- On August 28, the Forward Together Movement will honor the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington with events in each of the 13 congressional districts in North Carolina, including one at the State Capitol.
- Clergy will deliver special sermons throughout the weekend on August 24 and 25 in advance of the Anniversary.
- North Carolinians are mobilizing for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, planned for August 24, 2013 in Washington DC.