Moral Mondays Blossoms in North Carolina and Beyond


“My arrest sheet says ‘arrested for praying, singing and talking loud’ — in other words, for preaching,” thundered line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Barber and hundreds of others from across the state — including a growing number of clergy — have been arrested at the capitol in Raleigh as part of a weekly, nonviolent protest since late April, resisting the Republican-led legislature’s 10.0pt;line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Beginning earlier this year the Republican super-majority has legislated severe cuts to public school funding (while approving a voucher program for private schools); terminated unemployment benefits for 170,000 North Carolinians (and slashed them for everyone else); rejected an expansion of Medicaid as part of the U.S. government’s new health care policies; ended the earned income tax credit for working, low-income families; and line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Over the course of 13 Mondays, 960 people — from millionaires to the unemployed — have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to challenge the harsh new direction the state is taking.

While the protests have not derailed these new policies — the Republican-dominated legislature has been able to pass one bill after another — there are, at the same time, signs that this campaign is beginning to make headway. Barber, the president of the NAACP in North Carolina, who is also a Disciples of Christ minister, quoted polls indicating that the Moral Mondays movement is now more popular in the state than the legislature. If the power and success of a movement ultimately flows from its ability to alert, educate, and mobilize the populace, this polling data may indicate that this effort is on its way to generating the people-power needed to create long-term change.

This week the movement entered its next phase. As the legislature finished its work in Raleigh at the end of July, campaign strategists swung their attention to the home districts of legislators across the state. Moral Monday actions are being organized each week in a different North Carolina city, and on August 27 this contemporary civil rights movement will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington with simultaneous actions across the state. At the same time, the movement has begun to make the leap beyond North Carolina, with Moral Monday actions taking place this week in line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Rev. Barber arrived at the fourth annual Wild Goose Festival a few days after the second stage of the Moral Mondays movement was launched in nearby Asheville, where line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Most people camped — and all of us were drenched by the line of dramatic thunderstorms that periodically staggered through the mountains. On Saturday night the rain cleared long enough for a couple thousand of us to huddle at the main stage and be showered by the relentless intensity of line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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