Moral Monday brings together North Carolinians for change

Moral Monday brings together North Carolinians for change

Courtesy of Davia Young

What is Moral Monday? It is a question being asked throughout the state and the country.

The answer? Moral Monday is an NAACP-led series of protests that started two years ago in Raleigh. The movement began as a way for North Carolina citizens to address their concerns for the state and has since spread to Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Missouri.

Recently, however, North Carolina has faced a series of changes in legislation, including major changes to voting laws in the state, such as cutting the options of early voting and same-day registration. These acts may lead to invigorated protests for 2015.

“From what I’ve seen, (the protesters’) main focus is voting rights,” said senior Chelsea Yarborough, a regular protester at Moral Monday events for the past two years. “The (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is really made up of older folks, so while Moral Mondays generally encompass everything, I think the big thing they’re pushing for (in 2015) is voting rights, which is extremely important.”

Republicans succeeded in North Carolina in the 2014 election, pushing a conservative agenda into legislation and electing Thom Tillis to the U.S. Senate despite the protests held outside the state legislature building every week.

The gathering in Raleigh on Feb. 14 in celebration of Valentine’s Day, however, points to a successful future for the Moral Monday movement.

Junior Naomi Madaras attended the protest as her first Moral Monday event.

“It was on Valentine’s Day, so it was based on love,” said Madaras.  “I think that came across as love for the community and also love for the government. Fighting for change in America is patriotic. It’s telling the government that we are the people, here we are, and we want change in our communities.”

“It was filled with energy and good spirits and so much love,” said senior Nikki Gaines, who also attended the march. “The fact that it was on Valentine’s Day too added a whole other element. Everyone was really coming together, despite there being different issues and not just one central idea. There were all these themes that were reoccurring throughout.”

The goal of the annual Valentine’s Day gathering was to express anger about recent actions of N.C. lawmakers and to restate the unifying goals of Moral Mondays, the 14 Point People’s Agenda. This agenda addresses a variety of issues from school funding to the death penalty.

“There were folks there for all sorts of issues: health care reform, better funding for public schools,” said Madaras. “There were people there for bringing an end to fracking and a start for more sustainable energy sources. A huge group from the Black Lives Matter marched. All of these groups came together in support of love and change.”

Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a leader in the Moral Monday movement and state NAACP president, spoke as the keynote speaker at the event. Other speakers included Farris Barakat, the sibling of one of the recently murdered Chapel Hill students.

Barber called for supporters to address the real issue in North Carolina.

“We find we’ve got not a left problem or a right problem or a conservative problem or a liberal problem,” said Barber. “We’ve got a heart problem. When money and greed and political hubris and pride and ego and beating your opponent become more important than working together to uplift humanity, we’ve got a heart problem.”