A Mighty Shout in North Carolina

Jenny Warburg

Geoffrey Zeger didn’t attend last year’s Moral Mondays, the series of civil-disobedience events at which more than 900 people were arrested at the North Carolina legislature. The weekday occupations, coordinated by the North Carolina NAACP to protest the state’s sharp-right policy turn, conflicted with Zeger’s work schedule. But when he learned that tens of thousands of demonstrators planned to descend on Raleigh last weekend, the private-practice social worker from Durham couldn’t stay away.

“Every day I work with people whose unemployment benefits have been cut, and who are trying to get food stamps,” he told me at Saturday’s Moral March on Raleigh. “And a mother who’s working three and four jobs, and who has her children being watched by their grandparents. And they’re struggling. Ten hours a day, I’m working with people who are affected by a GOP legislature.” Zeger’s clients battle anxiety and depression, he says, as their family budgets grow ever more precarious. Yet Republican governor Pat McCrory and his legislative allies have cut jobless benefits and rejected a federally funded Medicaid expansion. “How do these policies help North Carolinians get better jobs and contribute to the tax base?” Zeger said. “They don’t. It’s a negative feedback loop.”

Jenny Warburg
Jenny Warburg
Jenny Warburg

So on a cloudy morning, Zeger joined a contingent of social workers that was gathering on the downtown campus of Shaw University. They were surrounded by hundreds of other human clusters, bundled against the cold but enlivened by their sheer numbers. Women’s health advocates sported pink toboggans. Fast-food workers carried signs demanding a higher minimum wage. Student activists, dressed as Dr. Seuss characters, rehearsed a piece of political theater. Farmworker allies carried a colorful magical-realist banner. There were sorority sisters, military veterans, and a dog wearing a sign that said, "Huskies for Choice."

As the multiracial crowd assembled for a march to the old Capitol building, the Rev. William Barber II, the NAACP’s state president, stood on a podium with some of North Carolina’s civil-rights elders and called for a “pro-justice” policy agenda: equitable and well-funded education; universal health care; better environmental protection; strengthened voting rights; a concerted effort to reduce poverty; fairness for minorities and the poor in criminal sentencing; and equality for women, immigrants, and LGBT North Carolinians. 

When he finished, a series of clergy members offered benedictions, each ending with the same crowd chant: “Lift up the light; hear our hearts, oh, God; and let it be so.” And with that, the faith leaders kicked off a march that—depending on whose estimate you believe—might have rivaled or even surpassed the 25,000 activists who traveled part of the route from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to demand equal voting rights for African Americans in what was then a record-breaking protest for the South. 

The Moral March on Raleigh was the largest uprising to date against the dramatic reversal in North Carolina’s tradition of moderate governance. For most of the time since 1960—when Democrat Terry Sanford, a former Army paratrooper with a pro-education agenda, defeated segregationist attorney I. Beverly Lake to become governor—policymakers from both parties have agreed that public-school and social-welfare spending, along with coolheaded race relations, were essential to maintaining a stable New South business environment. 

But the 2010 election of Republican majorities in both legislative chambers, followed by McCrory’s election two years later, set the stage for a radical overhaul in state policy. (Before this, the GOP had not controlled North Carolina’s government since 1870.) In addition to cutting social spending, the new majority shifted the tax burden away from the most affluent; made it easier to carry a concealed weapon but harder to obtain an abortion; and reduced ballot access with new limits on registration and early voting. It repealed a law giving death-row inmates the opportunity to challenge their sentences on the basis of racial bias. And it made deep cuts in education spending, to the dismay of teachers and administrators.

“I want to continue to do the job I love, and it’s looking less and less likely that this is going to be a sustainable profession for me,” Adriana Pardo, a fourth-grade teacher at Raleigh’s Joyner Elementary Magnet School, told me at the march. Five years into her career, Pardo said, “I haven’t had a raise, and there’s nothing that says eventually I’ll get any more money. If things don’t change, we’re going to lose some very valuable teachers.”


With the entire legislature up for re-election in November, the state NAACP and its allies call 2014 a critical organizing year. They’re hoping to build on 2013’s Moral Mondays, which attracted national attention partly because of the weekly arrests of religious leaders, physicians, educators, and elected officials who peacefully protested in a public building. 

Saturday’s event was the opening volley of what Barber called a renewed challenge to the “extremism” of North Carolina’s current leadership. This will almost surely include more civil disobedience, and more arrests, when the legislature reconvenes in May. “This Moral March inaugurates a fresh year of grassroots empowerment, voter education, litigation, and non-violent direct action,” he said during the afternoon rally. “We will defend the ballot. We will defend the Constitution. We will encourage voter turnout regardless of party. And we will sue to restore voting rights ... ” The rest of that sentence was drowned out by cheers. “We are calling on all people to get on board: There’s a train coming and it’s heading toward justice.”

Progressives will be watching this train with numerous questions. Can the energy from Saturday’s turnout be channeled into something more enduring? Will this multi-pronged strategy make a tangible impact on policy? Will it translate into electoral gains, particularly after Republican lawmakers have redrawn their own district maps? Will it succeed in other parts of the South? (Similar efforts are brewing in South Carolina and Georgia.) And will a movement steeped in the language of the Civil Rights Era, including the deep tropes of African-American Protestant churches, attract and sustain new activists, particularly young adults who didn’t live through that history and have been underrepresented in the Moral Monday arrests? 

The answers will unfold slowly over the coming year. For many, the upbeat energy of the Moral March offered inspiration to persevere. The large buildings that line downtown Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street cast a shadow that, along with the overcast weather, kept demonstrators shivering for much of the rally. But at the very end—during the last verse of “We Shall Overcome”—the clouds parted for the first time all day. “Give a mighty shout!” Barber declared. “Give a mighty shout! The sun has come out.”


A Mighty Shout in North Carolina?

A mighty whine is more like it, from all the something-for-nothing losers who want "free" bloody everything paid for by anyone other than themselves.

If these lazy leeches had been around for the early part of the history of this country, the Indians would have won.

This is a laundry list of vague concepts is nothing more than the same recycled meaningless liberal bunk. Why don't they just demand more "hope and change"? One of the things that makes me laugh is the demand of "fairness for minorities and the poor in criminal sentencing". Mandatory minimum sentencing was a result of these very same geniuses demanding the same thing. The consensus belief was that judges were inherently racist in sentencing, and thus a structured sentencing plan was put in place, which took the discretion out of the allegedly racist judge's hands. Welllll, as it turns out, those judges were in fact NOT racist and were NOT disproportionately sentencing minorities. But the result was that once the discretion was taken out of the judges hands, many many minorities were sentenced to much harsher sentences. This is what happens when you let these misguided types who use emotion and rabble rousing to push an agenda. Lastly, are these people engaging in deliberate self-mockery when they schedule their little demonstations for Mondays? Shouldn't these people be out looking for work on Monday?

This is called the people voice being heard. Not an astro turf tea party message, funded by wealthy industrialists, but average Americans who are fed up with being taken advantage of by governance by Corporate edict. It's no coincidence that North Caroling is ground zero, with a fellow named Art Pope funding the Republican takeover and getting his just rewards with tax cuts, and a bunch of backwards social engineering to appease the ignorant base. All the lies and name calling in the world isn't going to stop the people exerting their will, because after all, this is America.

This demonstration is certainly real people. Real people asking for more real handouts. Obama's biggest impact on America will be that he has removed any lingering social stigma whatsoever out of receipt of government handouts. Now people are only too quick to demand more of them. Have you seen the condition of the city of Detroit? Or what Greece looks like? If these people get their way, America will soon resemble Detroit.

Obviously, these people won't be happy until they're Detroit II.

Perhaps, a collection can be taken up to get them all a Bus Ticket to their Promised Land?

The people exercising their right to demand somebody else pay.

Give me a break.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.”

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to complacency;

6. From complacency to apathy;

7. From apathy to dependence;

8. From dependency back into bondage.”

This entire post is fake. I've seen this posted before on other sites and conservatives share with this with each other to post on other comment boards. The academic to whom this whole thing is attributed never wrote it and has publicly said that he did not write it and that the claims it makes are mostly false. Proof: http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/athenian.asp

The Tea Party is NOT a fake movement funded by rich conservatives. It is a genuine populist movement. In fact, there are many validated instances of unions and so-called progressives paying people to protest on their behalf. Moreover, as was seen in Wisconsin, the majority of hard-working taxpayers are fed up w/ this "pay for our benefits or we'll hold our breath until we turn blue" crowd. Pub employees and the beneficiaries of various gov hand-outs have no "right" to benefits and far too often are complete frauds gaming the system. Enough! As the Tea Party rightly says.

Yeah, God forbid they should allow what happened in WISCONSIN, under its' new Conservative Leadership, to happen in North Carolina.

Fools asking protesters to show up at the rally with photo ID to protest what? Voter ID?

I bet these fools don't see the folly in their foolishness!

The NC Dems are not going to get the white vote back by protesting welfare cuts. NC has turned red, as Kay Hagan will find out in November.

How sad to read these angry posts from right wing nuts, attacking teachers, nurses, grandparents, folks working 3 jobs (read the article!), students and thousands of other of their fellow citizens as "leeches" or "losers." If these writers were millionaires who love their new found gains at the expense of everyone else, I'd at least understand the selfish interest. But I suspect a lot of these writers don't understand that they are pawns in a radical attempt to undermine 70 years of making America a more decent place that lives up to its songs about hope. I won't even bring up race (this is NC after all); too sad.

No is "attacking" anyone EXCEPT govenment dependents (aka "welfare cheats") that any of us that bother to "work" (aka an "alien" concept) HAVE (i.e. are "forced" by government coercion) have to pay for. I am NOT "my brother's keeper." He/she needs to get off the couch and go out and get a JOB (aka another "alien" concept). Our Creator wants us to USE the talents he gave each of us. To sponge off your neighbor is a SIN in the Bible. "Thou shalt not steal."

The problem, of course, is that they are busing in protestors from out of state. Why should any North Carolina elected officials listen to residents of other states?

Outstanding. Since most of these folks are "welfare cheats," they've got nothing else to do. Throw them in jail.

Obama has been President of the USA for over 5 years now. The Democrat have controlled the House and Senate or the Senate since 2006 until today. So if Obama is such a great President why are so many folks in NC still without jobs? Stuck on welfare and Obamastamps? Or stuck on UNEMPLOYMENT? Obama has given our nation the worst recovery, worst economic growth, and worst UNEMPLOYMENT for the longest period of time since the Great Depression, and it isn't just NC. The misery they describe in this article is pretty much spread across the entire nation thanks to the economic growth killing, JOB KILLLING policies of Obama. Yet these folks are lining up at the state legislature? Folks, state governments can make some difference, but if you want to protest the real source of your misery you need to go protest against our dishonest, JOB KILLING, Economic Growth KILLING President outside the White House in DC. Keep in mind that after more than 5 years of Obama we have the highest rate of Poverty in over a generation, and the lowest percentage of Americans working since 1978. The source of your misery is Obama!

Let's see. About 2,000 largely black marchers who have no idea why they are there except their NAACP leadership said to come and a few white progressive handlers. When asked for examples of why the tea party was racist by David Webb, not one could give an example, with the overwhelming response being, "because they are". Not one interviewed knew there were two houses of Congress, but the Republican controlled Congress was stopping Obama from "moving forward", whatever that might mean to them. You just gotta love this stuff. Can't make it up. Apparently, the Occupy movement and MoveOn still have adherents in the black community.

Oh, and as to this article. Or, this site for that matter. Really, really sad. Yes, sir. Will these lower class, poor black people, who are completely clueless be able to channel this energy into something more? Really? Energy? Really tiresome and sad.

The black community has fallen further and further behind under this administration in every way possible, because they are not Obama's cause, but simply fodder. They are simply taken-for-granted voters to help progressives win power and "transform America" into another 3rd world country where these poor, ignorant, nice people will be relegated to ghetto life.

Mr. Yeoman writes:“For most of the time since 1960—when Democrat Terry Sanford, a former Army paratrooper with a pro-education agenda, defeated segregationist attorney I. Beverly Lake to become governor”
This suggests that Mr. I. Beverly Lake was an evil segregationist Republican who was defeated by the forces of good (i.e. Democrat Terry Sanford). This is not true. Mr. Lake was also a Democrat and was defeated by Mr. Sanford in the Democrat primary. Mr. Sanford then defeated Republican Robert Gavin to become Governor.
I assume it was not Mr. Yeoman’s intention to be deliberately misleading.

Mr. Yeoman writes:“For most of the time since 1960—when Democrat Terry Sanford, a former Army paratrooper with a pro-education agenda, defeated segregationist attorney I. Beverly Lake to become governor”
This suggests that Mr. I. Beverly Lake was an evil segregationist Republican who was defeated by the forces of good (i.e. Democrat Terry Sanford). This is not true. Mr. Lake was also a Democrat and was defeated by Mr. Sanford in the Democrat primary. Mr. Sanford then defeated Republican Robert Gavin to become Governor.
I assume it was not Mr. Yeoman’s intention to be deliberately misleading.

Here's some scary info that reveals the true liberal/communist goals for America. A few decades old but check out the strides that have been made.
[From "The Naked Communist," by Cleon Skousen]

1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.

3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.

4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.

5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.

6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.

7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.

8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.

9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.

10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.

11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)

12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.

13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.

14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

18. Gain control of all student newspapers.

19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.

20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policy-making positions.

21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.

22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."

23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art."

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy."

27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity, which does not need a "religious crutch."

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."

29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."

31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.

34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.

36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.

37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.

38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use ["]united force["] to solve economic, political or social problems.

43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.

44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.

45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.

Wow!! those are some wacky comments. Especially you, Bacusaf (someone is stuck in a cold war time capsule...). And, as for most of the other commenters, almost every one of you twisted this story to full distortion. Where the heck did you get "The people exercising their right to demand somebody else pay" out of this article?? Me thinks you did not even read it. I, on the other hand, did read the article and not one person that was interviewed was on welfare.
It sounds like North Carolina is turning into another Texas. What a shame and downright scary.

It appears that Art Pope or some of his minions have organized a troll army to say silly things. Could this organized trollery be a new tactic on the right wing's war on information and truth?

Along with fake websites so Democrats will be fraudulently solicited to contribute to Republican causes, it does appear that there is an organized group that is systematically commenting with the falsehoods, exaggerations, and warped biases to thoughtful positions posted on progressive websites. North Carolina is suffering high unemployment because of the recession and structural decline in traditional industries. There are many applicants for most openings. There are jobs that cannot be filled because the unemployed do not have the needed skills. The state's GOP has cut the Earned Income Tax Credit, refused to expand Medicaid, drastically cut unemployment insurance payments, and messed up SNAP. They have also cut education, both K-12 and post-secondary, thus depriving the unemployed of a way to acquire needed skills as well as cutting the payments that provide subsistence. For shame.

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(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)