N.C. NAACP Leader on Protests: We're Having Impact

The demonstrations against policies by the Republican-led legislature and governor are drawing national recognition.

Posted: 06/13/2013 04:53 PM EDT

For nearly two months, the protests have been underway in North Carolina with a growing number of participants – and with increasing attention.

By now, the Moral Monday demonstrations organized by the North Carolina NAACP have become well-known nationally. And the chief organizer says that they are beginning to have the effect that was initially intended.

“We feel we’re having impact,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, the president of the state's NAACP said, in an interview with BET.com.

“Whenever you see veterans, grandmothers and children, when you see people who are Black and white, young and old in a movement that is seen as a moral imperative, you know you’re on the right side of history,” he added.

So far, more than 400 people have been arrested in the acts of civil disobedience at the North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh. The NAACP has put together a wide swath of residents of the state to come out weekly to protest everything from the legislature’s tax policy to changes in the state’s voting laws.

By holding the unrelenting protests, the NAACP and its allies are seeking to call attention to a number of policies put in place by Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of the state. They say they are angered by the cut in the payroll tax credit for more than 900,000 poor and working people in North Carolina as well as a rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage for more than 500,000 residents who don’t have health insurance.

In recent weeks, the protests have been covered by a growing number of media organizations, including the New York Times. Also, the movement gained additional notoriety this week when a religion reporter for the Charlotte Observer was arrested at one of the protests.

“We are now getting people from all faiths and all religions,” Barber said. “It is becoming a movement that is moving people to their very core.”

While it is energizing activists, labor and religious leaders in the state, the so-called Moral Monday protests each week are also irritating many elected officials and members of the state’s Republican-dominated legislature.

State Senator Thom Goolsby, a Republican, denounced the demonstrations, referring to them as “Moron Mondays” in a column in the Chatham Journal.  

"The circus came to the State Capitol this week, complete with clowns, a carnival barker and a sideshow," Goolsby said in the article. He further described the protesters as "angry, aged former hippies" and members of the "Loony Left" who were "screeching" and "complaining" into microphones.

Meanwhile, North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, has called the protests “unacceptable,” adding that they are fueled by “outsiders.”

But Barber said that he is undeterred by the criticism.

“They say that this effort is fueled by outside agitators,” Barber said. “That’s the language that was used by people like George Wallace and Lester Maddox. We won’t worry about whatever they call us. We’re concerned about helping the least of our citizens.”

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(Photo: AP Photo/The News & Observer, Travis Long)

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