When a group equal to one-fifth the population of the state capital shows up to protest your policies, you're in trouble. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people showed up Saturday at the Moral March on Raleigh, the state capital with some 420,000 residents. The marchers included working families and their allies from around the state and more than 30 other states. A related rally a year ago attracted 15,000 participants. It's clear that more North Carolinians are becoming upset with the extreme agenda of Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and his allies in the legislature.
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and a driving force behind the state's Moral Monday movement, which spawned the march, said: "The governor and the legislature are trying to say we’re in the middle of a Carolina comeback. We got a team of experts, economists, professors, etc., together, and they said we’re in the middle of a Carolina setback. No way you can spin what’s happening to us."
MaryBe McMillan, the elected secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, wrote a poem on the march. Below is an excerpt:
Why are union members and workers here, today?
We’re here because:
There’s too much corporate greed
And we have families to feed.
There are so few jobs, no decent wages.
Inequality tops the news pages.
CEOs earn more and more
While the rest of us grow poor.
The bosses want their workers cheap,
Meek and docile like sheep.
They move their companies South,
Hoping we won’t give them any mouth.
Well, imagine their surprise
As they watch the South arise.
The reaction to the right-wing policies pursued by McCrory are opposed by much of the state's public as well. A poll last week gave him a 37% approval rating. The General Assembly fared even worse, at 32%. Only 23% of the state's residents think North Carolina is headed in the right direction.
Barber and the other organizers behind the march and the Moral Monday protests have focused on five goals:
- Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that ensure economic sustainability.
- Provide well-funded, quality public education for all.
- Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice across all the state's communities.
- Address the continuing inequalities in the criminal justice system and ensure equality under the law for every person, regardless of race, class, creed, documentation or sexual preference.
- Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.
Learn more about the march and the Moral Monday activities.