RALEIGH – Moral Monday returned to Raleigh this week, as close to 150 people gathered for a somber march around N.C. Governor’s Pat McCrory’s Mansion to protest what they call restrictive voting laws passed by the Republican-led legislature.
The Governor was out-of-town, but still the demonstration went on.
UNC junior Dylan Su-Chun Mott spoke at the rally Monday, representing the university group, Student Power.
“There are a lot of regressive actions being taken toward students in general to break up really a liberal, or progressive, voting block in this state,” Mott said.
The protesters marched down Wilmington Street in Raleigh, stopping traffic, and then circled once around the Governor’s Mansion. The Associated Press reported that McCrory was attending a Republican Governors Association meeting in Charleston, S.C.
The protesters carried with them several empty caskets to remember the four little girls killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church 50 years ago this week. The rally ended with a candle vigil in Halifax Mall.
Reverend William Barber, NAACP state chapter president and Moral Monday leader, said the blood of those “young martyrs” helped make voting possible for everyone. He said those rights should not be restricted.
“The same blood says you can turn around. You may not, but you can,” Barber said. “You could engage in virtue of repentance, Governor. You could undo what you have done. You could hear the cries of the blood and say that you were wrong. If you did that, this same blood could unite us.”
Chapel Hill native Morgan McDonnell, a freshman at N.C. State, has been to four Moral Mondays. She said election law changes, such as the requirement for photo identification and the end to same-day voter registration, purposely makes it harder for college students and other groups to vote.
“Like Reverend Barber said, just because the Governor is not here, doesn’t mean the problem is not here,” McDonnell said. “If I could speak to Governor McCrory, I would ask him why is he doing this. There are a lot of people who would like to ask him a lot of questions.”
The turnout for Monday’s protest was much smaller than the hundreds or thousands that typically rallied during the legislative session over the summer from late April until July. Those weekly protests resulted in more than 930 arrests inside the General Assembly.
“It is a lot smaller than other Moral Mondays, but I am so happy to see people out here,” McDonnell said. “It just feels really good to know that other people care about my future as well.”
While the weekly protests in Raleigh were on a hiatus, the movement went on the road, holding rallies in cities across North Carolina.
Ann Humphreys, a Carrboro resident and Moral Monday regular, said she feels encouraged that the peaceful protests are continuing.
Another NAACP protest was held simultaneously in Rockingham County Monday evening.
“I want to see it build. I’m so grateful that the momentum has continued,” Humphreys said. “I was amazed by how [the Moral Monday protests] built over the summer months and how much happened in such a short time.”
The NAACP issued a call to action for college students in the state to get involved with civil engagement and also announced that plans for future Moral Mondays were in the works.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/32758/