Moral Mondays in North Carolina

A friend of mine from the way-back years recently paid a visit from her home state of North Carolina. She was the first to tell me of a rising coalition called Moral Monday. Here’s the Why and then the What

So far this year, legislation passed or pending by [North Carolina] Republicans would eliminate the earned-income tax credit for 900,000; decline Medicaid coverage for 500,000; end federal unemployment benefits for 170,000 in a state with the country’s fifth-highest jobless rate; cut pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools; slash taxes for the top 5 percent while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent; allow for guns to be purchased without a background check and carried in parks, playgrounds, restaurants and bars; ax public financing of judicial races; and prohibit death row inmates from challenging racially discriminatory verdicts.

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On an overcast afternoon in early July, 300 activists pack into the white-columned Christian Faith Baptist Church to prepare for the ninth wave of Moral Monday protests at the state legislature. “Supporters on the right, civil disobedience on the left,” they’re told as they enter. The racially and socioeconomically diverse crowd has the feel of an Obama campaign revival. Eighty people take the left side of the pews, wearing green armbands to signal their intention to get arrested, nearly all of them for the first time. “The goal of Moral Monday,” says the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, “is to dramatize the shameful condition of our state.”

Read more at The Nation:

One of the recent participants in a Moral Monday was Baldemar Velasquez, a long time farmworker organizer, in the mold of Cesar Chavez,  in Florida, Ohio and the eastern United States. {Here with Bill Moyers.]

The president of Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee was arrested for civil disobedience Monday at a protest in Raleigh, N.C.Mr. Velasquez, 66, was among more than 80 protesters arrested at a rally held at the North Carolina General Assembly building in Raleigh to oppose the state’s budget cuts to unemployment benefits, health-care funding, education, and other social benefits.

More than 3,000 protesters attended the rally, organized by the North Carolina NAACP.

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