August 20, 2013
Coastal Moral Monday draws large crowd in Manteo
…WITH SLIDE SHOW
BY CATHERINE KOZAK
Moral Monday events were held across the state on Monday evening, Aug.
19, but the charismatic leader of the grass roots social justice
movement in North Carolina chose to attend the one that was held in
“Let me tell you why I’m here,” Rev. William Barber II
told the crowd of almost 700, his voice booming from the stage at
Roanoke Island Festival Park. “I’m from eastern North Carolina. I was
raised down here.
“It was down here in the east where I learned
my values. I learned down here that there are some things that are just
right and there are some things that are just wrong.”
of a minister, Barber was raised in Free Union, a small Washington
County town near Plymouth. His ancestors on his grandfather’s
side are Barbers and Mackeys from Hyde County, and he is also descended
from the Tuscarora Indians.
“The policies they passed are
going to hurt people in eastern North Carolina worse than anywhere
else, except in the mountains,” he said after the event.
the president of the state NAACP, had gained national attention leading
weekly protests on Monday at the legislative building in Raleigh while
the General Assembly was in session. Each week the number of attendees
grew, and by the time the session ended last month, more than 900
peaceful protesters had been arrested, including several from the Outer
Then when legislators went home, Barber took Moral
Mondays on the road, vowing to cover all regions of the state. A
rally in Asheville last week attracted 5,000. The protest in
Charlotte on Monday had about 3,000 attendees, and in Burnsville in
Yancey County, about 500 people came.
expecting about 500 people to show up in Manteo, so they were pleased
with the turnout, especially with rain stopping shortly before the
“It’s excellent for Manteo, because it’s really
hard to get any people out for any event we have,” said Immie Miles, a
town resident in her 20s who was collecting donations after the
event. “I think it says that people are paying attention. People
know what’s happening and they’re not going to stand for it.”
The crowd reflected all ages, black and white, although it was dominated by middle-aged white people.
Sheridan, a 25-year-old University of North Carolina-Greensboro
graduate student, was dressed in a super-hero-type costume, wearing a
cape and holding a shield that said “Fight On For Justice.”
here for justice and sensible economic policy, which the Republicans
are not providing,” he said, adding that he has attended about six
Moral Mondays along with his mother and sister.
A veteran of the
local protests in the late 1980s and 1990s against oil drilling off the
Outer Banks, Mickey Baker traveled from Ocracoke with another island
resident, Carmie Prete, each carrying protest signs.
Islanders Debbie Wells, Betty Shotton, and Ann Ehringhaus also made the trip together.
because, like everybody else, I am kind of outraged where our state is
going in such a short amount of time,” Wells said. “I feel like (Gov.)
McCrory misrepresented himself as a moderate. I don’t think he is
Bill Jones and his wife Lida Jones, who retired
full-time on Ocracoke six years ago, have painful memories of the civil
rights struggle in their home state of Alabama.
that concerns me the most is voter rights,” said Lida Jones, 67.
“When I was younger, I was not brave enough to speak out . . . I know a
lot of my friends are upset about the direction the state is going.”
program began at 6 p.m. with numerous speakers, many of them local,
giving brief remarks about recently enacted – or repealed - laws
affecting the environment, women’s issues, education, the poor,
healthcare, the justice system and voting access.
Singing and recorded music between speakers was interspersed with chanting, “Forward Together, Not One Step Back.”
by Dorsey Harris with the North Carolina Association of Educators, who
detailed the impact of budget cuts on schools and teachers, received a
strong reaction from the audience.
“Did you know that North Carolina is the only state in the South to cut funding for higher education?” Harris asked.
“Shame! Shame!” the crowd responded.
who will celebrate his 50th birthday on Aug. 30, spoke in the
entrancing manner of a preacher – he is the pastor at Greenleaf
Christian Church in Goldsboro – and with the skill of a political
orator as he deftly moved the audience through a long list of recently
passed legislation that he called “immoral, extreme, and a form of
“It almost doesn’t sound real,” he said, as he cited one law after another.
he declined to condemn the Republican Party – which has had a record of
moderation in the state – and focused on what he characterized
currently as its hurtful policies.
He said that cuts in
unemployment insurance, Medicaid, the earned income tax credit,
education, and women’s healthcare will have dire consequences in the
east, which has the highest rates of poverty in North Carolina.
lambasted the legislature’s Republican leadership and the governor for
passing restrictions on voting, using a false claim of voter fraud as a
“Think about it,” he said. “Fifty years after the
March on Washington, we have to fight for voting rights. But we’ve got
to stand up and say voting rights are the cornerstone of democracy.
“This is a vulgar attempt at political manipulation,” he said, his voice rising.
“The truth is, they have temporary power and the future does not belong to them.”
emphasized the values of love, fairness, justice, and kindness without
sounding too much like church. He also frequently lightened things up
“They thought they could get away with it,” he said, pausing.
“Oh-oh is what they said in Raleigh.”
he reminded the audience of their unusual gathering for the Outer
Banks, organized initially by Manteo resident Linda Willey, one of
those arrested in Raleigh during a Moral Monday protest.
“They brought a loud preacher together with Linda and united us,” Barber said. “Oh-oh.”
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