The Anatomy Of The Moral Monday Movement

RALEIGH: The North Carolina NAACP’s Moral Monday protests began with just 17 arrests in the first rally in late April. Now nearly 600 have been arrested speaking out against the right-leaning  NC General Assembly. New and seasoned protesters are preparing to converge in Raleigh once again for this week’s “Mass” Moral Monday. It’s the ninth protest so far taking place at 5 p.m. across from the General Assembly.

WCHL compiled a timeline of events since the first Moral Monday Movement to document the details of each week:


 April 22: The Beginning of the “Civil Disobedience”

  • NAACP State Chapter President Reverend William Barber called for action against the GOP majority in response to a voter identification bill moving through the House. Barber said the bill was just one of many in a wider agenda targeting the poor and minority voters.


April 29: Week One

–       17 arrested

  • This was the first NAACP protest; Barber called it a non-violent “pray-in.”
  • Bishop Larry Reid, pastor at the Cathedral of Hope Church in Carrboro; Dr. Timothy Tyson, a professor at Duke University; Vice President of the NC NAACP Reverend Curtis Gatewood; and Barber himself were among those first arrested.
  • They were arrested on misdemeanor charges of second-degree trespassing, failure to disperse on command and violating building rules.


May 6: Week Two

–       30 arrested

–       Running Total: 47

  • Tye and Wanda Hunter of the United Church of Chapel Hill were arrested during this rally. Barber’s 20-year-old son, William Joseph Barber III; former Duke University Dean of Arts and Sciences, William Chafe; Duke Professor of Public Policy and History, Robert Korstad; and UNC historian  Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, were also arrested.


May 13: Week Three

–       49 arrested

–       Running Total: 96

Chapel Hillians of faith from the Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist, Binkley Baptist Church, and the United Church of Chapel Hill made the trek to Raleigh. This was when the name “Moral Monday” was introduced.


May 20: Week Four

–       57 arrested

–       Running Total: 153


 May 29: NAACP Rally Tour comes to Chapel Hill

  • Locals gathered in front of the courthouse on Franklin Street for an NAACP rally. It was part of a 25- county tour to raise awareness for the growing efforts to protest the policies of the General Assembly.
  • Speakers at the courthouse included Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, Minister Robert Campbell, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, and members of the Raging Grannies.


May 27: The NAACP took a pause for Memorial Day


June 2: The 100th anniversary of the controversial confederate monument known as “Silent Sam”

  • Reverend Barber joined the “Real Silent Sam Committee” on UNC’s campus to speak out against what they say the statue represented, which fell on the eve of Mega Moral Monday.


June 3: Week Five

–       151 arrested; *most arrested in a single Moral Monday

–       Running Total: 304

  • Dubbed “Mega Moral Monday,” Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, Chapel Hill Town Council member Donna Bell, and Carrboro Aldermen Damon Seils, Michelle Johnson and Sammy Slade were among those arrested.
  • The number of arrests nearly matched the combined total of 153 from the last four protests dating back to late April. Orange County Commissioners were also present at the demonstration, including Penny Rich, Mark Dorosin and Bernadette Pelissier.


June 7: Sen. Thom Goolsby, R- New Hanover, wrote an op-ed published in the Chatham Journal titled, “Moron Monday shows radical Left just doesn’t get it”

  • The piece refers to Moral Monday protesters as “hippies” and “Loony Liberals.”


June 8: The Civitas Institute published a database of all those arrested during Moral Mondays

  • Still featured in its website, the list included mug shots, party affiliations, cities of residence, and the “Pick the Protester” Game. Civitas Institute is a conservative think tank funded largely by the Pope Foundation, which has given it more than $8 million since its founding in 2005.  Art Pope sat on the tax-exempt, nonprofit institute’s board of directors until Gov. Pat McCrory appointed him as State Deputy Budget Director.


June 10: Week Six

–       84 arrests

–       Running Total: 388

  • Clergy members from across North Carolina led this protest, despite a tornado watch and rain throughout the evening. Mia Burroughs and James Barrett, members of the Chapel Hill Carborro City School Board of Education, were in attendance.


June 10: Reports surfaced of NC Lawmakers calling the Moral Monday protesters “outsiders”

  • “It’s my understanding that a lot of these people are from out of state. That’s the reports that we’re getting,” Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said following the June 10 protest.
  • “Outsiders are coming in, and they’re going to try to do to us what they did to Scott Walker in Wisconsin,” McCrory told The Associated Press.


June 12: First Witness Wednesday

  • Eight people were arrested inside the state building, including Durham City Council member Steve Schewel.
  • This event, organized by the NAACP, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, while also continuing their fight against the Republican-led state government.


June 17: Week Seven

–       84 arrested

–       Running Total: 472

  • This protest focused on health care and environmental justice. Four members of the United Church of Chapel Hill were arrested, including nineteen-year-old Kira Frescoln, pastor Jill Edens, Reverend Susan Steinberg and Dave Otto.
  • Sylvia Steere is the owner of Golden Age Bakery, a gluten-free bakery she operates out of her Chapel Hill home. Steere hand-delivered 170 cookies to every single legislative office in the State House and Senate.


June 24: Arrestees from first Moral Monday on April 29 appear in court

  • NAACP legal advisor Irving Joyner said charges should be dismissed, arguing that the Constitution gives protesters  the right to peacefully assemble on public property and address their legislators. District Court Judge Dan Nagle said his court handles only pleas or the assignment of attorneys, not hearings with witnesses. He subsequently assigned them September court dates, when the issue of dismissal will be heard.


June 24: Week Eight

–       120 Arrested

–       Running Total: 592

  • This “Mass” Moral Monday saw the largest attendance of all the NAACP’s rallies. General Assembly Police estimated more than 1,500 protesters. The rally focused on labor, women and economic justice issues.
  • Those arrested include Chapel Hillian Fredy Perlman, Marybeth Powell of Carrboro, and state AFL-CIO President James Andrews. US Congressman David Price attended along with State Senator Ellie Kinnaird and Verla Insko. MSNBC and Fox News sent camera crews to cover the event.

Barber At Weds Protest: ‘We Are Going To Win’

RALEIGH – North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has said he is not backing down to the Moral Monday protesters, whose numbers are now peaking in the thousands. An increasing number of people from Orange County have been joining the effort, some getting arrest, including local leaders.

McCrory told the Associated Press that “Outsiders are coming in and they’re going to try to do to us what they did to Scott Walker [the Governor] in Wisconsin.”

Reverend William Barber, the NC president of the NAACP, has been the central figure in the movement against the state General Assembly.  Barber says he won’t relent, though McCrory has denounced his efforts.

“The bottom line is that we are going to win. It is going to be tough but right will always win. The constitution still stands and our morals still stand. They have stood against many tests and many tyrants,” Barber said.

As he spoke to activists who gathered for a second time this week in front of the General Assembly for the NAACP’s Witness Wednesday, he laughed at the notion that the protesters aren’t from North Carolina.

Laurel Ashton is the co-chair of the Labor Committee for the Chapel Hill Carrboro chapter of the NAACP.

“They are falling back in the tactics of George Wallace in the 1960s. He called Martin Luther King Jr. an outsider. And now, they are just using the same rhetoric, digging themselves into a deeper hole,” Ashton said.

Witness Wednesday commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assignation of civil rights activists Medgar Evers, while also continuing their fight against the Republican-led state government.

Eight people were arrested inside the state building, including Durham City Council member Steve Schewel.

Fellow NAACP member and lawyer Al McSurley was there for Witness Wednesday, and many Moral Monday before. He’s watched the protesting grow from a grassroots effort, to a statewide movement.

“I have never seen, in all my time, as exciting of a deep, and broad-based fusion in a movement—that is with black, white, Latino, gay, straight, religious, atheist, all holding hands and marching together. We never had anything like this in the sixties,” Al McSurley said.

Barber said next week’s Moral Monday will focus on environmental issues, and the following with highlight labor rights.

NAACP To Host Witness Wednesday In Raleigh

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina NAACP and other activists will gather in Raleigh for Witness Wednesday this week. It’s an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist, Medgar Evers.

The event is set to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Davie Street Presbyterian Church and then travels down the road for a news conference in front of the General Assembly.

Witness Wednesday is part of the civil rights group’s greater efforts to protest recent legislation passed and proposed by the NC Legislature.

The NAACP also plans to announce details regarding the Forward Together Voter Registration Campaign, launching on Wednesday as well.

6th Week Of Moral Mon. Protest Set, Clergy To Lead

RALEIGH – The state chapter of the NAACP will continue on with its sixth week of Moral Monday protests that have led to the arrests of more than 300 people.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton was arrested last Monday inside the General Assembly, along with Chapel Hill Town Council member Donna Bell, and Carrboro Aldermen Damon Seils, Michelle Johnson and Sammy Slade.

Rally leader and NAACP state chapter president Rev. William Barber said clergy members from across the state will lead this Monday’s demonstration against policies of the Republican-controlled legislature.

“Our job through this movement is to expose those extreme immoral policies that hurt everyone. They impact all people and it’s beginning to work,” Barber said.

The NAACP and its supporters contest the social, economic, voting and education policies of the General Assembly. Many also oppose the state’s decision to reject the Medicaid expansion under federal health care reform, cut unemployment insurance and end the earned income tax credit, among other issues.

Barber announced via teleconference Friday the NAACP will follow up the protest with “Witness Wednesday” to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. The group will also announce details of a voter registration tour.

“We will have pictures of the martyrs who have died—black, white and Jewish—to protect all of the rights of those we are also trying to protect,” Barber said.

The group’s rallies have grown in size every week since they began in late April, most recently drawing more than 1,600 by some estimates. The number of arrests has grown each week as well—last week’s topping upwards of 150.

Protests Grow, Leaders Kick Off Voter Drive

RALEIGH-  This week’s Moral Monday protest at the General Assembly was the largest since the Forward Together movement launched this spring. Now organizers want to take the protests to a new level.

To springboard off the success of the Moral Monday protests, North Carolina NAACP leader Reverend William Barber says his group and others will launch the next phase of the Forward Together movement with Witness Wednesdays, starting this Wednesday with the commemoration of the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

“On that Wednesday at 12 noon, at the General Assembly, we will also announce the launching of Voter Registration Summer, a new kind of freedom summer right here in North Carolina,” says Barber. “We intend to fight, we intend to stand. We’re going to challenge them morally, we’re going to challenge them legally, and we’re going to challenge them at the voting box. The one thing we’re not going to do is go backwards, because our motto is “Forward Together, Not One Step Back.”

The Moral Monday protests are designed to call attention to a host of economic and educational policies sponsored by the Republican-controlled legislature that Barber says are harmful to the majority of North Carolinians.

“Their policies are constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane,” says Barber.

To date, thousands have protested and more than 300 have been arrested for civil disobedience, including Carrboro’s mayor and several members of the Board of Aldermen.

Governor Pat McCrory has criticized the protesters, saying they are wasting taxpayer money by clogging the court system with frivolous arrests. But Barber says the right to assemble is constitutionally protected.

Article 1, Section 12 of the state constitution says we have a right to do exactly what we’re doing,” says Barber. “They don’t have to arrest us. The Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem don’t have to order the arrests. But we’re not going to give up our constitutional rights simply because they do order the arrests.”

The protests will continue this Monday at the General Assembly, led by a coalition of clergy from across the state.

Click here to listen to Friday’s teleconference in which members of the Forward Together movement announce the next phase of the movement.