Source: Editorial Board
The last Monday in April marked the 10th anniversary of Moral Monday, a movement that started with just 17 North Carolinians who peacefully protested against state Republicans’ stopping Medicaid expansion, slashing unemployment benefits, and restricting voting rights, among other measures.
The small peaceful protest would grow into thousands over the course of a few months, led by the state’s former president of the NAACP, Rev. William Barber II.
The movement created one of the largest direct action campaigns at a state legislature in US history, with over 1,000 people arrested while demanding accountability for state Republicans’ continued abuse of powers.
Ten years later, Rev. Dr. Barber has renewed his call to “stand up, fight back,” as state Republicans have increased their efforts to target the state’s most vulnerable communities and pass laws that would strip away rights from North Carolinians.
“The forces that profit from racial division and class division and deprivation, they do not rest,” Rev. Dr. Barber told the crowd of hundreds at the Moral Monday Recommitment Rally.
“We have fought and we have won because we came together in a fusion movement across lines of difference,” Rev. Dr. Barber continued. “Moral Mondays have never stopped…But I must tell you, my sisters and brothers, our work has just begun. And if you thought we fought hard in 2013, you ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s time for another fight.”
In the latest legislative session, state Republicans have pushed forth bills that would criminalize protests, target trans youth, ban reproductive health care access, erase students’ freedom to learn, and make obtaining a gun easier.
“We demand the N.C. General Assembly cease and desist from what is becoming a long train of abuses already in 2023 ignoring the real needs of poor people in this state while attaching living wages, voting rights, safety from gun violence, our humanity and our environment, our schools and our public education system, our reproductive rights and right to bodily autonomy, our access to health care and our fight to safety from violence and discrimination in the criminal legal system,” Rev. Dr. Barber wrote in a letter addressed to the N.C. General Assembly.
The movement has called on state lawmakers to support and pass legislation that would center North Carolinians’ interests and rights, including voting rights protections, securing living wages for all workers, ending the use of partisan and gerrymandered voting maps, and fully restoring the right to vote for the currently and formerly incarcerated in this state.
Other demands include,
- Urge North Carolina congressional representatives to restore the key protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1975 now.
- Protect the right to form and join a union.
- Immediately adopt and implement universal quality healthcare.
- Expand Medicaid with no strings attached.
- Protect reproductive justice and the right to bodily autonomy.
- Reject all proposals to deny the humanity of transgender youth and adults and protect equal protection under the law for LGBTQ communities.
- Protect immigrant communities and recognize their role in this society.
- Reject any attempt to force local sheriffs to become extensions of ICE and further terrorize immigrant communities.
- Fully recognize public education and protect the right to teach accurate history.
“We will not allow the clock to be turned back on our democracy, for our hard-fought gains to vanish, or for our children to have less democracy, less rights, less environmental justice than we do today,” Rev. Dr. Barber continued in the letter. “Forward together, not one step back!”