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 N.C. 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.
Six months before she helped organize the protest known as Hands Across Riverdale, the word “fracking” didn’t mean much to Deb Eck. “Not a damn thing,” says the 52-year-old dollar-store manager. A single mother of twins, she was putting in crushing hours to provide a decent life for her daughters, who are now 12. On good days, she arrived home from work in time to help the girls with their schoolwork, tuck them into bed, and spend the rest of the night cooking and cleaning. There was no time to read about the natural-gas boom unfolding in her backyard.
In the week since North Carolina voters adopted a constitutional amendment banning recognition of any "domestic legal union" other than heterosexual marriage, a consensus has formed among journalists about African-American complicity. According to this narrative, black voters let their Protestant traditionalism trump any sense of fairness toward lesbians and gay men—and became the critical voting bloc that gave Amendment 1 its landslide victory.
A shivering knot of college students stands outside Motor City Java House as John George unlocks the front door. It’s 15 degrees in Detroit on a February morning, and fresh snow covers the Old Redford business district. Cold weather doesn’t stanch the flow of volunteers coming to the city’s northwest corner: They show up every Saturday, arriving in shifts, ready to swing sledgehammers and twist crowbars. George’s wife, Alicia Marion, has learned to expect this traffic since she opened the coffeehouse in 2010. She puts on an apron and starts brewing.