Forward Together! In North Carolina

by Lib Hutchby, WILPF-Triangle Branch

North Carolina once was hailed as the Old South’s progressive stronghold… but no more! For the first time since 1898, extremist right-wing Republicans have won a super majority in the North Carolina Legislature, and a seat in the Governor's mansion, too. Since taking control of the State in January 2013, they’ve lost no time in unleashing an avalanche of regressive and repressive legislation that has left local WILPF members—and folks from throughout the State—reeling.

Voting rights and the Racial Justice Act, unemployment insurance, public schools, reproductive rights, environmental protections (including a previous moratorium on fracking), affordable health care, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, the earned income tax credit, gun control, separation of church and state . . . all are now on the Republican’s auction block.

Under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the NC NAACP, and in collaboration with the more than 140 other community organizations that comprise the HKonJ coalition, WILPF members sought to bring their concerns to their elected officials, but were stonewalled at every turn. When a citizen attempted lawfully to address the Legislature, State Senator Tommy Tucker (R-Union) admonished: "I'm the Senator. You're the citizen. You need to be quiet!"
We will not be quiet!

On April 29, several dozen North Carolinians sat in the legislative gallery with their mouths duct taped, demonstrating their outrage at being silenced. Seventeen others prayed and chanted in front of the doors to the General Assembly, and promptly were arrested. Five students were arrested on May Day, followed by 30 protesters on May 6 and 49 the Monday after that. Monday, May 20 brought an additional 57 arrests, bringing the “Moral Mondays” total to 158 thus far.

Among those arrested to date have been nine members of WILPF’s Triangle NC Branch, and more have vowed to follow in the weeks to come.

Rallies and demonstrations (and, no doubt, arrests) will continue every Monday during this Legislative session. Support is growing. A recent editorial in the Raleigh News & Observer commented:

"Republican lawmakers no doubt tell themselves that the protesters are extremists . . . But that dismissal is a delusion. The people getting arrested in waves at the General Assembly are carrying a message from many thousands of North Carolinians. They represent not only those who need government services, but those who believe the legislature is breaking the traditions and reversing the gains of a great and enlightened state. In the people’s house, such messengers ought not be arrested. They should be heard and heeded."

WILPF members engaging in this struggle are following in a long and proud tradition of WILPF leadership in North Carolina. Triangle WILPF was founded in 1935, and was host to the National Congress in 2011. WILPF’s partnership with the NC NAACP and the other member organizations of the HKonJ coalition creates a powerful fusion movement embracing groups working in the areas of immigrant justice, health care, economic justice/development, environmental justice, community organizing/outreach, faith/religion, youth/college/education, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, democracy/civil/human rights, peace advocacy, and the media.

The future of North Carolina's children is far more precious than partisan political posturing. Their public schools, their safety nets, their voting rights, their fundamental human rights and, indeed, their water, air, and soil, must not be placed on the auction block. We are fighting for ALL the people of North Carolina, and for the chance to live in this gloriously beautiful state without threats to the freedoms, the health, and the well-being of the generations to come.

Forward Together! Not One Step Back!


For extensive video coverage of North Carolina’s growing movement, see:

For background and more coverage, see:


Photo 1: Rev. Dr. Barber, President of NC NAACP, with Mary Evelyn O'Neill, age 8, and Annie Rider O'Neill, age 12, speaking at FORWARD TOGETHER!! in NC; giving reasons for the need for Moral Mondays

Photo 2:  Civil disobedience inside the NC Legislature in front of the golden doors /refusal to stop singing, clapping, chanting, speaking out


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