Moral Monday has protesters flooding streets of Raleigh

History was made on Feb. 8 when an estimated 80,000–100,000 people flooded the streets of downtown Raleigh.

It was the Moral March on Raleigh.

Jordan Green, editor of the Triad City Beat, was amazed by the size and diversity of protestors in the rally.

“There were three or four city blocks just jammed with people,” Green said in a phone interview. “It was a very diverse crowd. Doctors in their white coats stood alongside teachers, fast-food workers and union members.

“Black, white, Asian, Latino, young and old — everyone was there.”

What sparked such a large gathering in the state’s capital?

Prior to the 2012 election, Democrat and former Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed conservative legislation drafted by a largely Republican General Assembly.

Following the election, Republican Governor Pat McCrory took office while the General Assembly became even more homogeneous. This combination enabled the state legislature to pass its conservative legislation with more ease.

The moral marchers’ outcries are directed towards this legislation, which they claim calls for politically driven changes like gerrymandering.

“The new North Carolina map packs Democrats into a small number of ultrasafe seats and gives Republicans largely safe seats that will be unlosable in anything but a wave election,” said David Weigel, journalist for the Slate magazine, in a recent interview with the Washington Post.

Protesters are also rallying to protect voting rights.

Last summer’s voting regulations, collectively deemed “The Monster Laws,” disenfranchised many minority voters by demanding all voters to present government-issued identification at the polls.

“I’m not big on using the term ‘voter suppression,’ but it is hard to see this law as justified,” said Professor Rick Hasen at the University of California at Irvine to The Washington Post. “The intent here is to make it harder for people — especially non-white people and those likely to vote Democratic — to register or cast a vote that will be counted.”

Another goal for the protesters, especially teachers and parents, is education reform. The National Education Association’s 2013 school statistics reveal that North Carolina is ranked 48th in terms of money spent on supporting students.

Additionally, Duke University researchers found that 30 percent of public school students and 60 percent of charter school students attend a racially unbalanced school, a school with less than 20 percent or more than 80 percent minority enrollment.

Other major issues on the minds of the marchers were income inequality, LGBTQQA rights, women’s rights, health care and environment protection.

Will the Moral March have a significant impact on the General Assembly and future legislation?

Associate Professor of Political Science Maria Rosales offered her perspective.

“The event is significant in size and in the ways it can energize people,” Rosales said in an email. “However, it seems unlikely (that it will) have more than minor effects on immediate policies coming out of Raleigh.”

Reverend William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the movement, enthralled the crowd with his keynote speech at the rally.

“We are black, white, Latino, Native American,” said Barber. “We are Democrat, Republican, independent … we are natives and immigrants, business leaders and workers and unemployed, doctors and the uninsured, gay and straight, students and parents and retirees.

“We stand here as a quilt of many colors, faiths and creeds.”