Barber: 'Moral Monday' movement similar to civil rights movement
Posted January 18, 2015
Durham, N.C. — North Carolina NAACP President William Barber used the pulpit at Duke University Chapel Sunday to equate Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights efforts with the “Moral Monday” movement, saying the push for social equality is still needed.
"I believe we are possibly in the embryonic stages of a third reconstruction in America," said Barber, the keynote speaker at Duke’s MLK program. "And if we come together even the more, if we return to our fortresses as prisoners of hope, there's no telling what God is going to do."
More than 1,000 people were arrested during the weekly peaceful protests at the General Assembly over the past two years, where Barber and others have demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the Republican-led legislature.
Education funding, voting rights and the state's refusal to expand its Medicaid health insurance program for the poor were among many causes supporters turned out for. The protests, which involved signs and chants, would start outside the Legislative Building and end in the courtyard area outside the House and Senate chambers. Weekly turnout ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand.
Last year, a committee of lawmakers known as the Legislative Services Commission adjusted the building rules to address the "Moral Monday" protests. The rules were amended recently to allow State Capitol Police to designate specific areas of the courtyard rotunda area for specific uses.
Even with the new rules, the protests have the potential to make a difference, said Reginald Hodges of Durham, who attended Sunday’s event.
“If everyone comes together, white, black, Jews, Islam, Republican, Democrat, that everyone coming together can make a difference,” he said. “People will have to listen to what we say.”
During one “Moral Monday” protest last year, educators who came to demonstrate requested a meeting with Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger – and got one. Both sides agreed to disagree on many issues after the hour-long conversation, but it was the first time a senior legislative leader met with movement members.
With lawmakers back in session, Barber said a mass "moral march" is in the works for February.
“Our agenda is clear,” he said. “Our partner organizations are more committed than ever.”