Yesterday I attended Asheville’s second Mountain Moral Monday, a movement that started in Raleigh in 2012 in protest of the extremist policies of the NC General Assembly, most of which have been signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory. Early estimates put the number of attendees at about 5,000-6,500 people-down from last year’s 10,000, but an impressive turnout nonetheless.

Mountain Moral Monday in Pack Square, Asheville
Mountain Moral Monday in Pack Square, Asheville

The Moral Monday movement’s organizer and state NAACP chapter president, Reverend William J. Barber, was in attendance. Barber and hundreds of others have been arrested for peaceful protests in Raleigh and vilified by the far right. The Moral Monday movement has been reported on by national outlets and versions of the movement are beginning to spread around the country. A short clip of his speech can be found here. I hope to add the full video when it becomes available.

Yesterday’s rally focused on voter registration and bringing public awareness to the continuing struggle for equality, environmental protection, quality education and support for teachers, immigration reform, and healthcare for all. There were several speakers directly affected by recent legislation: a doctor from a rural community, a single mother, an undocumented immigrant, a teacher, a gay minister who wants to marry her partner…

Those who attended the rally carried signs that addressed issues important to them.

Medical Cannabis Advocates
Medical Cannabis Advocates
Frack Off Gasholes!
Frack Off Gasholes!

 

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Veterans for Peace
Veterans for Peace

Since Republicans won a super-majority in the General Assembly in 2012, NC legislators have succeeded in pushing forward the far-right’s agenda, such as Amendment One-a Constitutional amendment which bars recognition of same-sex marriages. The earned income credit is expiring this year, as are several deductions and exemptions that will result in a higher tax burden for the working poor and the middle class.

In 2016, the new voter ID law will require voters to show a photo ID to vote. Early voting days have already been cut, and several polling locations have been closed, leading to longer lines and more difficulty casting a vote, especially for minorities.

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Legislators have also voted to fast-track fracking and criminalize the disclosure of the chemicals used in the process. This law, the so-called “Energy Modernization Act,” was passed without public notice or time for public comment-a tactic which has become par for the course in NC. 2378

Restrictions on reproductive rights, unemployment and Medicaid cuts, immigration issues, and tax cuts for the rich  may also be added to the laundry list of grievances about which NC voters have become increasingly concerned. North Carolina has become a test lab for all of the regressive policies that tea-party driven politics have wrought.

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For decades, the far right has claimed to be the moral voice of “real” Americans. Their so-called Christian values are the source of their morality and the reason for the positions they take on everything from gay marriage and women’s rights, to their draconian stance on the refugee crisis at our border. But some Republicans are finding the courage to speak out against what they believe are immoral acts by the government. Reverend Barber recently joined forces in Washington, DC with Adam O’Neal, the Republican mayor of Belhaven, NC, who had just walked 300 miles to the capitol to bring awareness to the health care crisis that that has occurred as a direct result of not accepting federal funds for expanded Medicaid. “For me and the mayor, it’s not about partisan politics,” Rev. Barber said. “It’s about what’s right.”

4 thoughts on “Forward Together, Not One Step Back: Moral Monday Returns To Asheville, NC

  1. Amaya, great post and I am glad you went. I have made it two of them as well, one in Charlotte and one with my son in Raleigh. Before some people discount their efforts, they should know that banding together with teachers, they were able to get legislators to address declining comparable pay. And, they continue to shine a light on the injustices you mention. For those not in our state, some good news has happened in the courts.

    With the 4th District Court of Appeals ruling on the Virginia same sex marriage case, the NC attorney general will no longer defend the state’s restriction. The teacher tenure change made by the General Assembly last year was overturned as unconstitutional and the Jim Crow-like Voter ID law is in court now and less suppressive laws were ruled unconstitutional in Arkansas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The fight continues, but some progress is being made along with the notoriety.

    I must confess, being at the Moral Monday with my son in Raleigh, made me proud to be an American. It was the most diverse crowd and including the same kinds of professionals you mentioned. You would think that would get more attention from those who have restricted the rights of others. Keep pushing the envelope. You are on the side of the Angels here. BTG

    1. It really was a diverse crowd! All the naysayers were grousing that we were all a bunch of unemployed, hippie, moocher types, but it looked to me that there were a lot a rather well to do and older people there. Along with us hippies:)

      1. I agree. People who oppose what the Moral Monday protests are all about are merely labeling the protestors in a perceived negative way to their audience. To do otherwise, would give the protestors credence and make the labelers question their opinion.

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