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Saturday, February 08, 2014

"The Movement Is Growing": Democratic Grassroots Uprisings in North Carolina And Beyond

From the North Carolina NAACP Press Release:
Diverse North Carolina Coalition Kicks Off a Year of Nonviolent Direct Action, Popular Education, Litigation and Voter Engagement RALEIGH -- The Forward Together Moral Movement, a broad, multiracial coalition movement led by the North Carolina NAACP, has called for thousands of people to assemble at the NC state capitol on Feb. 8 for a Moral March to protest the extremist policies passed by the state government last year. The movement is made up of more than 160 partners from the civil rights, women's rights, faith-based, labor, LGBT, immigrant justice, student and environmental communities. Participants will help map out sustained direct-action campaigns for the rest of 2014, including grassroots voter engagement for the mid-term elections and beyond. It is expected that Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC NAACP and architect of the Moral Movement, will announce a number of actions in his major charge to the assembled around 11:45 am, including a five-point mobilization plan and a 21st century version of Freedom Summer in North Carolina. The Forward Together Moral Movement deepens and broadens the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street People's Assembly (HKonJ), which, for the past seven years, gathered thousands of people in front of the state legislature in early February. After a year of more than 30 Moral Monday rallies and in the wake of an avalanche of cruel policies passed in the General Assembly last session, the coalition returns to Raleigh this year with renewed strength and a sense of urgency. There are five fundamental demands for this year's Moral March:
[1] Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability;
[2] Provide well-funded, quality public education for all;
[3] Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice across all the state's communities;
[4] Address the continuing inequalities in the criminal justice system and ensure equality under the law for every person, regardless of race, class, creed, documentation or sexual preference;
[5] Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.
Ari Berman blogging today at The Nation:
North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement held a massive “Moral March” in Raleigh today which began at Shaw University, exactly 54 years after North Carolina’s trailblazing role in the civil rights movement. Tens of thousands of activists... held an exuberant rally protesting the right-wing policies of the North Carolina government and commemorating the eight anniversary of the HKonJ coalition [the acronym stands for Historic Thousands on Jones Street, where the NC legislature sits.] The day began cold and cloudy, a fitting metaphor for politics in North Carolina last year. Since taking over the legislature in 2010 and the governor’s mansion in 2012, controlling state government for the first time in over a century, North Carolina Republicans eliminated the earned-income tax credit for 900,000 North Carolinians; refused Medicaid coverage for 500,000; ended federal unemployment benefits for 170,000; cut pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools; slashed taxes for the top 5 percent while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent; axed public financing of judicial races; prohibited death row inmates from challenging racially discriminatory verdicts; passed one of the country’s most draconian anti-choice laws; and enacted the country’s worst voter suppression law, which mandates strict voter ID, cuts early voting and eliminates same-day registration, among other things. The fierce reaction against these policies led to the Moral Monday movement, when nearly 1,000 activists were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience inside the North Carolina General Assembly, rallies were held in over 30 cities across the state and the approval ratings of North Carolina Republicans fell into the toilet. Sample signs at today’s rally: “OMG, GOP, WTF. It’s 2014, not 1954!!!” “Welcome to North Carolina. Turn Your Watch Back 50 Years!” [See my Twitter feed for photos of the rally.] The Moral Monday protests transformed North Carolina politics in 2013, building a multiracial, multi-issue movement centered around social justice that the South hadn’t seen since the 1960s... If today’s rally was any indication, the Moral Monday movement will be bigger and broader in 2014. An estimated 15,000 activists attended the HKonJ rally last year, bringing thirty buses; this year, the NC NAACP estimated that 80-100,000 people rallied in Raleigh, with 100 buses converging from all over the state and country. It was the largest civil rights rally in the South since tens of thousands of voting rights activists marched from Selma to Montgomery in support of the Voting Rights Act... There will be a new wave of direct action protests when the North Carolina legislature returns in the spring, a new wave of activists doing voter mobilization and registration during the “Freedom Summer 2014,” and litigation challenging North Carolina’s voter suppression bill. The movement will be active in the streets, in the courtroom and at the ballot box. They will be focused not just on changing minds, but on changing outcomes.

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