Moral Mondays goes statewide in N.C.

By Ben C. and Andy Katz

Raleigh, N.C., June 29 — As the short North Carolina legislative session winds down to a close as this article goes to press, the Moral Monday movement is making plans to take the movement on the road during the summer with outreach, education and continued mobilization.

Under the banner of “Moral Freedom Summer” — drawing on the 50th anniversary of “Freedom Summer” in 1964 — the North Carolina NAACP announced at the final Moral Monday in Raleigh on June 23 plans to “turn mass mobilization into mass organization.” While much of the effort will be focused on voter registration, young organizers in counties across the state will be engaged in a number of organizing initiatives aimed at deepening the unity built between struggles by the Moral Monday movement and engaging more people in the broader fightback.

Plans are in the works for Moral Monday rallies in cities across the state throughout the summer and fall.

Elevating all the struggles

Throughout the month of June, thousands mobilized to Raleigh every Monday for the weekly demonstrations, and dozens engaged in civil disobedience. While each protest raised a number of the major struggles, each week also carried a focus area. June 9 raised the struggle around public education; June 16 raised the struggle of workers, women and people of color; and June 23, the final action in Raleigh, was a mass sit-in that engaged the participants of the demonstration in helping to chart out the next steps for the movement.

On June 9, a group of nearly 20 public school teachers, along with several students, held a teach-in outside of Senate leader Phil Berger’s office. They attempted to enter the office, but Berger had locked them out. After hours of sitting in outside of his office and leading a teach-in that outlined the devastating impacts of the state Legislature on public education and young people in North Carolina, Berger met with the teachers for nearly an hour. There were no arrests.

The following week, thousands of workers from a number of different worker organizations mobilized to participate in the worker-focused Moral Monday. The Southern Workers Assembly played a major role in the mobilization, and distributed a leaflet raising the demands from the worker organizations that have been participating in the assembly. After a spirited rally, 20 were arrested outside the doors to the North Carolina Senate chambers, holding red banners that read “Jobs & Freedom.” Those arrested included a number of fast food workers, a public school teacher, the president of Food and Commercial Workers union Local 1208, and the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

The last Moral Monday, held on June 23, featured a mass sit-in throughout the halls of the Legislature. Groups of 20 to 30 people occupied nearly every space in the building. These groups discussed how to bring the movement back to their communities and to connect with the outreach, education and mobilizations planned for the summer. At the conclusion of this mass sit-in, everyone gathered outside the doors to the legislative chambers and 15 people engaged in civil disobedience and were arrested.

While this was the last demonstration of this legislative session, the Moral Freedom Summer organizing efforts will continue the agenda of the Moral Monday movement. Twenty-five youth organizers are being trained and deployed to work with local NAACP chapters in a statewide voter registration drive along with efforts to build connections with community struggles.