Thousands Attend Moral March on Raleigh

Despite freezing temperatures thousands came to downtown Raleigh Saturday morning to protest for voting rights and other causes.

The tenth annual Moral March on Raleigh and HK on J People’s Assembly was organized by the NAACP.

Handwritten signs called for healthcare for all and an end to private prisons, among dozens of others.

Tyler Swanson, an NAACP youth leader, said Raleigh was a good place to hold such a march.

“We stand in a city, we stand here on the shoulders of the great youth that came before us, to organize, to pave the way for us so that we can live in a better future,” said Swanson.

The crowd gathers before the march begins

The crowd gathers before the march begins

Advocates, like Kim Porter with NC Warn, spoke out for environmental protection.

“It’s a moral issue and an environmental justice issue when we worry about the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we eat,” said Porter.

The event began near Shaw University before making its way down Wilmington and Fayetteville streets to the state capitol, with marchers chanting along the way.

The main theme of the march was voting rights. The NAACP is the lead plaintiff in a recent federal case regarding North Carolina’s photo ID requirement to vote.

Even though supporters for presidential candidates were there, Rev William Barber, leader of the North Carolina NAACP, said the march did not support any specific politicians.

“You can come but you can’t have the movement, you can’t hijack the movement, whoever you are supporting that’s fine but we are supporting economic sustainability, addressing poverty and labor rights,” said Barber.

Moral March with State Capitol in background

Moral March with State Capitol in background

Critics of the movement say that their demands would cost tax payers thousands of dollars.

Organizers passed out filers encouraging people to register to vote, as well as spreading information for the upcoming primary.

“At the end of this march we are going to do a mass organizing and we need to sign up thousands of youth to join a volunteer army,” said Barber.

Marchers were enthusiastic and the energy was high but it remains to be seen if these efforts will increase voter turnout on Election Day.

Rev. Barber at Duke Chapel’s MLK Celebration: ‘No Ways Tired’

Duke University Chapel honored the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday, with its annual service. This year, the keynote speaker was North Carolina’s most prominent living civil rights activist, in King’s tradition.

The Rev. William Barber entered Duke Chapel dancing, before addressing a packed audience on Sunday afternoon. How could he not dance just a little bit, as he passed through a joyful routine by the Collage Dance Company?

When it was his turn behind the podium to deliver the keynote address for the annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, he assured the audience that the work King started back in the 1960s is still ongoing, right here in North Carolina.

“The Forward Together movement is no ways tired,” said Barber. “When we left Raleigh, we’ve been moving all over the state.”

Barber is president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest chapter in the south, and the second largest in the U.S.

During his one-hour, eight-minute speech, Barber listed a number of reasons that organization is so active here, as well the Forward Together movement of the Moral Monday protests at the state legislature.

“In North Carolina, over 1.6 million live in poverty, and that’s just using the limited poverty standard, and not the living wage standard” said Barber. “And 600,000 of them are children.”

Those Moral Monday protests in Raleigh are set to resume on January 28.

Barber also criticized the refusal of the Republican governor and legislative leadership, so far, to expand Medicaid in the state.

And he compared some of the insults directed at President Obama to the coded race language used by politicians during the old “southern strategy” days. When Barber mentioned the term “food stamp president” in particular, many in the audience groaned.

Barber was preceded at the podium by Duke University Hospital President Kevin Sowers; Durham Mayor Bill Bell; and Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead.

There were tributes paid throughout to the late scholar and activist John Hope Franklin, who would have turned 100 years old on Jan. 2.

Brodhead mentioned that Franklin researched his book “From Slavery to Freedom” at Duke University Library, during a time when racial barriers prevented him from joining the faculty.

There was a reference to the recent controversy regarding a planned call to Muslim prayer from Duke’s chapel tower, which was canceled after threats. Ali Bootwala, a representative of the Muslim Student Association, and Rachel Fraade, a representative of the Jewish Student Union, lit a candle for peace, hope, and justice together.

Bootwala said that “hate cannot be put out by hate — only love can do that.”

“Moral March” Set To Rekindle Moral Monday Movement

CHAPEL HILL –  The Moral Monday movement is revving back up as the North Carolina NAACP and other activists prepare to rally once again for the Moral March on Raleigh February 8.

An NAACP affiliated group, Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ), is hosting the event which kicks off at 9:30 a.m. on Shaw University’s campus.

HKonJ hosts a mass assembly each year on the second Saturday in February.

Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria Palmer said she will march on Jones Street. She was arrested during the first Moral Monday on April 29 of last year, along with protest leader and State NAACP Chapter President Reverend William Barber.

“There is an understanding of the importance of this movement, and more people are coming out than before. I think five years ago, they might think, ‘Oh, things are not so bad. These are extremists. Why are they protesting?’ And now, at least there is an awareness that, yes, things are getting worse. We are going backwards.” 

Barber spoke to thousands as they attended the 13 Moral Monday peaceful protests in Raleigh during the summer of 2013, rallying against what they called a “regressive agenda” of the N.C. Legislature.

Close to a thousand people were arrested inside the General Assembly, protesting against legislation which they believed hurt the poor and minority groups, and negatively impacted women’s rights and education, among other issues.

“We hope this will be the largest march since the days of Selma with people coming together,” Barber said during a teleconference Thursday. “We will not only march, but we will lay out our mobilization plan because we have really only just begun to fight. Fifty years ago there was a freedom summer—we are going to have a whole year of freedom fighting for freedom and equality.”

Twenty local Moral Mondays were held across the North Carolina, and the movement is now spreading to other states.

State House Representative for Orange County Verla Insko (Dem.) attended several of the demonstrations last year.

“I do support their effort. I appreciate everything that they are doing. I believe they are on the right side,” Insko said. “They focus a lot, not just on voter ID, but on this income inequality. That is going to be a big issue at the state level as well as at the national level.” 

Palmer said she will continue to rally in 2014 because she believes many state lawmakers are ignoring the movement’s message.

‘Some people say, ‘Oh, you were expecting a miracle.’ I say no, I was expecting some kind of effort on their part to at least appear to be reconciling the different points of view,” she said.

Barber, 11 Others Found Guilty In Moral Monday Protests

WAKE COUNTY – A Wake County judge found North Carolina NAACP President William Barber and 11 other Moral Monday protesters guilty of second-degree trespassing and violating building rules while rallying at the state legislature in April.

District Court Judge Joy Hamilton issued her ruling Wednesday after a two-day trial. Defense lawyers argued that the protesters’ actions were protected by both the U.S. and state constitutions, the Associated Press reported.

The 12 defendants in court this week were among the first of more than 900 people arrested during the weekly Moral Monday peaceful protests against legislation passed by Republican-controlled General Assembly during the summer.

Hamilton sentenced the defendants to pay a $100 fine and court costs. The defense gave immediate notice of appeal for the two convictions.

A handful of protesters have been convicted and are appealing, and a few others were acquitted. Charges against dozens of protesters were dropped after they agreed to perform community service under a deal offered by Wake County prosecutors.

NAACP’s William Barber Back In Court For Moral Monday Charges

WAKE COUNTY – NAACP state chapter president Reverend William Barber and 11 other Moral Monday protesters were back in court Tuesday on charges of disrupting lawmakers during an April rally inside the state Legislative Building.

The group was the first of more than 900 people arrested during the weekly Moral Monday peaceful protests against legislation passed by Republican-controlled General Assembly during the summer.

The protesters were charged with trespassing, failing to disperse and violating Legislative Building rules.

One day of testimony in the trials of Rev. William Barber and the other 11 protesters was held in October, and the trials are expected to continue Wednesday, multiple news outlets reported.

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver took to the witness stand Tuesday morning, explaining the rules about gatherings at the Legislative Building, WRAL reported. Defense attorneys argued that the rules, which were drafted in 1987, are vague and can be interpreted differently.

A handful of protesters have been convicted and are appealing, and a few others were acquitted. Charges against dozens of protesters were dropped after they agreed to perform community service under a deal offered by Wake County prosecutors.

Moral Mon. Marches On Gov’s Mansion; McCrory Absent

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.

Moral Monday Returns To Raleigh

RALEIGH – The N.C. NAACP’s Moral Monday protests return to Raleigh this week after holding the peaceful demonstrations in other cities across the state.

This time, college students will lead the rally to protest of legislation passed by the Republican-led legislature and Governor Pat McCrory, which they say hurts education and voting rights.

Protesters are set to meet at 4:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on Wilmington St. in downtown Raleigh and will then head to the Governor’s Mansion at 5:30 following a rally led by students of the organizations such as NC NAACP Youth & College Division, NC Student Power Union, Cause and NC Vote Defenders.

“Young people have always been an active and important part of the Forward Together Movement,” said Reverend William Barber, NAACP State Chapter President and Moral Monday movement leader, in a statement. “As school begins across the state, they will continue to organize and build this movement in response to the immoral and unconstitutional attacks on student voting rights and public education. This is a Movement, not a moment!”

The Moral Monday demonstrations, which were held over the summer in Raleigh, saw more than 900 arrests in the General Assembly.

Civil Rights Attorney on Moral Monday

CHAPEL HILL – With court appearances continuing for those arrested in the Moral Monday protests, lawyers for the arrestees argue that their clients had a right to be protesting under our constitution.

Civil rights attorney and member of the North Carolina NAACP’s leadership council, Al McSurely, says he’s represented two groups of three arrested protesters so far in their first court appearances and has made that same constitutional argument before the judges.

“Both times, the judges were very open to that argument and lifted the restrictions on my clients’ ability to go back and see Senator Kinnaird or Representative Insko,” McSurely says.

McSurely is referring to a restriction placed on those arrested at the Moral Mondays protests that barred them from returning to the state capital, which he previously said was “patently unconstitutional.”

“Some of us believe strongly that both the federal and state constitution only have any meaning when they are tested,” McSurely says.

More than 900 protesters were arrested at the state capital, charged with crimes varying from trespassing, failure to disperse, and holding a sign inside the capital building.

With that high level of defendants, with around 700 being arrested in just the past weeks, McSurely says court proceedings could easily stretch into December and January.

“I don’t have any estimate, and I don’t think the D.A.’s office has any estimate of when all of the first appearances will be over,” McSurely says.

Moral Monday protesters will no longer be meeting at the state capital, with some protesters and McSurely himself going to a gathering in Asheville this past Monday.

Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and one of the main speakers at many of the Moral Monday rallies, will be giving a speech related to the Moral Monday movement in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the March on Washington speech, August 28.

Some residents of Chicago are also starting their own protests and are calling the action Moral Monday as well.