Moral Monday comes to the Bull City

Voting rights the focus of downtown rally
Jul. 28, 2014 @ 09:37 PM

Moral Mondays came to Durham Monday evening, with a rally at CCB Plaza downtown.

The N.C. NAACP-organized Moral Mondays were held in Raleigh the past two years when the North Carolina General Assembly was in session, to protest policies of the Republican-majority legislature. Moral Mondays are now being held in cities across the state this summer as part of the NAACP’s “Moral Freedom Summer” initiative to get out the vote for fall elections.

Rev. William Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP, spent the first half of Monday in Washington, D.C., protesting the state’s denial of Medicaid expansion. He returned in time to speak at the Durham rally.

A few hundred people crowded onto CCB Plaza, holding signs that said “Let the People Vote,” “I Will Act on Climate Change,” “Mother By Choice,” “Organize To Boost Voter Turnout” and “Repeal Attacks on Voting Rights.” The crowd was diverse racially and generationally, with a busload of people from Croasdaile Village retirement community unloading at the rally, too. While Moral Monday protestors have several issues they address – including education, health care, economy, environment – the focus this week was on voting rights.

Barber urged those at the rally to tell their neighbors to organize and to vote.

“I’m so angry. I’m so frustrated, I’m going to register and I’m going to vote,” he said. Barber called the recent voting law changes, which include the elimination of same-day registration and voting, shorter early voting and requiring a photo ID to vote, “the worst attack on voting since Jim Crow.”

Calling it a “regressive form of voter suppression,” Barber said the voting bill shows the nation “what extremists, especially in the South, are willing to do.”

Moral Mondays – with the slogan “Forward Together” – is not about Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives, he said. A Republican mayor was also with Barber in D.C. protesting the denial of Medicaid expansion, he said.

“It’s about doing what’s right for the good of the whole in this state,” Barber said.

He also talked about the historical fight for voting rights for African Americans in the South.

“Nobody gave us our right to vote. Someone died for our right to vote,” Barber said. He said the legislative majority was wrong to attack Medicaid, the working poor and teachers, but voting is another level.

“How dare you,” he said.

Three Durham clergy also spoke in support of voting rights – Rabbi John Friedman of Judea Reform Congregation, Rev. Jimmie Hawkins of Covenant Presbyterian Church and Rev. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham of Pilgrim United Church of Christ.

Hawkins said they had to bring Moral Mondays to the Bull City because in Durham, “we are experts in bull-ology and we recognize it when we see it.”

Denying voting rights is bull, Hawkins said. Limiting early voting when the majority of Durham African Americans use early voting, and redistricting black voters, are more instances of bull, he said.

Students from N.C. Central University, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke Divinity School also rallied the crowd to get out the vote among students.

Stefan Weathers, past student body president of NCCU, said they are there to defiantly say, “Enough is enough. We shall not be moved,” he said.

Moral Monday will be held next week in Asheville.

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