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Moral Mondays: the new face of protest?

"This is no momentary protest. This is a movement. We've been here before, and if slavery didn't kill us, if the oppression of women didn't kill us, surely no weak legislator with 86 votes gonna kill us...instead of defeating us, they've made us defiant." 

What a day: Moral Monday in review

In 2012 Republicans took over both houses of the Legislature and the Governor's seat in North Carolina in the United States for the first time in a hundred years.

This set in motion what the New York Times called "a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom, and access to the ballot."

Federal unemployment benefits were cut for 70,000 people. Medicaid was denied to an additional half-a-million. Guns were allowed back into schools, parks and bars. Restrictions on women's reproductive health were expanded. And just this week Governor Pat McCrory signed a discriminatory voter ID bill into law.

North Carolina has long been known as a moderately progressive southern state, with strong support for public education, sensible environmental regulations, equal access to voting, and an atmosphere of racial tolerance.

That’s why thousands of North Carolinians are protesting against the changes, converging on the state capitol in rallies each Monday since mid-May.

Dubbed “Moral Mondays”, the rallies are designed to put moral issues and priorities at the heart of the political agenda. Led by the Rev. William Barber and the North Carolina NAACP, the rallies have brought together a remarkable cross-section of people representing different groups, causes and identities, coalescing around a common agenda of equality and human rights.

Approximately 900 state residents have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience, such as trespassing and disturbing the legislature while in session. Now that the legislative session has ended, Moral Mondays are spreading across the state.

This short video, taken at the last Moral Monday rally on July 29th, provides a glimpse of the style and spirit of nonviolent protest that has emerged in North Carolina over the last three months. Those wearing red are public school teachers and their allies.

Under the banner of "Forward Together, not One Step Back", North Carolinians are fighting the backward slide of the state they love.

About the author

Mary Mountcastle lives in Durham, North Carolina. She participated in the Moral Monday rallies and was one of the 900 people arrested for civil disobedience while demonstrating her distress at the backward slide of her state.

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