Thousands Expected to Protest in Moral March
By Debora E. Timms
JOMC Journal Contributor
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Chapter NAACP, continues to raise awareness and issue a call to action for North Carolinian to oppose legislation and policies he says are not only morally wrong, but also unconstitutional and economically unjust.
Barber recently brought his message to Greensboro’s Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, asking attendees to join in a Moral March on Raleigh on Feb 8. Organizers expect the march and “People’s Assembly” that follows to be the largest and most diverse mass protest in the South since the Alabama march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
Local activists hope to organize a Greensboro contingent of 1,000 protestors to travel to Raleigh. The march is the first in a series of protests planned for 2014 that will continue the Moral Mondays protests of the past year which resulted in nearly 1,000 arrests and garnered national media attention. Several people who attended Barber’s meeting at Bethel had been arrested at earlier protests. Bethel’s Rev. Alphonso E. McGlen greeted an audience of men and women of diverse ages, ethnicities and faiths.
McGlen noted the group had come together with “intentional purpose” to reflect on past accomplishments while also focusing on the future. A video package of past protests helped to highlight the issues - quality education for our children; affordable healthcare; economic justice; fair elections; insurance for the unemployed; access to women’s healthcare; environmental justice; equality for all – which are at the heart of the Moral Monday/Forward Together movement. Other goals were clarified when several explained why they planned to attend the march.
Among those who spoke was Rabbi Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel. He addressed the issue of education and the erosion that has occurred, and continues to occur because of budget cuts and poor teacher pay. He cited statistics which rank North Carolina 46th in the nation for teacher compensation, 48th in per student expenditure, and 50th for teacher salary increases. Guttman also noted that a lack of teacher remuneration was a disincentive to teacher’s pursuing higher degrees and is leading talented teachers to take jobs outside North Carolina.
Barber defined those organizing the Moral March as “an anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-labor, deeply moral, deeply constitutional, agenda-based fusion coalition” of more than 160 organizations coordinated by the NAACP. He challenged those who question the legitimacy of the movement or assert that it targets only the GOP by reminding listeners that the Moral Monday/Forward Together movement had its beginning in 2006 under a Democratic governor. Barber says the movement cannot be defined in terms of Republican vs. Democrat or liberal vs. conservative because there is “no limiting a discussion of morality.”
Barber sees himself and others as standing up for the constitutional rights of all. He notes the words of the North Carolina State Constitution in Article 1, Section 2 which address the sovereignty of the people:
All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
The Feb. 8 Moral March on Raleigh will take place at Shaw University in Raleigh, at 8:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.hkonj.org, or contact Yvonne Hunt-Perry at (336) 254-1501, or Joyce Hobson Johnson at (336) 230-0001.