Barber: We stand together for justiceBy Yasmine Regester / February 17, 2017
Share this article:
RALEIGH – “We march as not a spontaneous action but a movement that stands upon deep foundations of organizing that have gone on for years setting the groundwork for times such as this,” said N.C. NAACP President, Rev. William J. Barber II at the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People’s Assembly Coalition march on Saturday, Feb. 11.
“Four years later, we realize we have been preparing all along for such a time as this,” he added.
The N.C. NAACP estimates the more than 80,000 people gathered to march on the capitol to address the legislature on the issues of healthcare, economic and social justice, the protection of voting rights, immigration and education. At Saturday’s march, protestors also criticized the passage of HB2 and the voter ID law by the Republican-led legislature.
House Bill 2 is the bill that strips away work discrimination protections for young workers and requires transgender persons to use the bathroom indicated on their birth certificate. The law also restricts local governments from passing ordinances to protect members of the LGBTQ community. It prohibits municipalities from raising the minimum wage and impacts requirements and protections for minority business owners when participating in government contracting.
This year marked the eleventh year that the NAACP-led march has taken to the streets of Raleigh to express concern and frustration over state lawmakers’ attempts to suppress the rights of the people.
Representatives from Greensboro who spoke at the capitol included Revs. Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson of Beloved Community Center; N.C. NAACP 2nd Vice President and Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman; Rabbi Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel; Rev. Cardes Brown, president of the Greensboro Branch NAACP and pastor of New Light Baptist Missionary Church and Rev. Julie Peeples, pastor of Congregational United Church of Christ.
Rev. Barber energized the crowd and gave the reason for the march.
“Somethings are about right versus wrong. We march because 11 years ago in Raleigh, a coalition of White, Black and Brown people of faith, rich [and] poor, came together on a cold morning like this one. Our fusion coalition is based on the simple principle that if the wealthy few were cynical enough to stand together against justice then we should be strong enough to stand together for justice,” said Barber.
“We’re winning because we’re clear about the issues of public policy. We march because it’s wrong to attack the lifesaving Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. We march because it’s wrong to defend racist and unconstitutional gerrymandering. We march because it’s wrong when your party loses statewide elections despite historic attempts at voter suppression, you then exercise legislative tyranny as the North Carolina extremists led General Assembly did when they passed Senate Bill 4. That’s wrong. We march because it’s wrong to defend the anti-family, anti-worker, anti-living wage anti-LGBT HB2 bill. We march because it’s wrong to defend and excuse the lies and fear and the hate of Trumpism and the undermining of our democratic institution to appoint and approve regressive and extreme federal appointees and White nationalists into the White House, we march,” said Barber.
Senate Bill 4 was passed last December in an emergency legislative session under the guise of providing flood victims in North Carolina with disaster relief funds. The bill also limits newly elected Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) powers to select members to the UNC Board of Governors, the state board of elections and requires that Cooper’s cabinet selections undergo confirmation hearings by the N.C. Senate.
Speakers expressed concern about President Trump’s executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries.
“There are over 55 million Latinos in the United States and over 3.3 million Muslims in the United States. It’s wrong and racist and demonic to drive fear into our immigrant and our Muslim brothers and sisters. It’s wrong to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out while you let the Russians in. It’s just wrong,” said Barber.
“It’s wrong to talk about law and order when our criminal justice system is out of order and the new Jim Crow is incarcerating too many Black and Brown and even poor Whites. We march because we know these are not conservative policies, these are extreme policies that hurt real people,” said Barber.
“We march together so that preachers can fight for $15, so workers can say Black Lives Matters, so a White woman can stand with her Black sister for voting rights, and a Black man can stand for a woman’s access to healthcare. So that LGBTQ folk can stand for religious liberty, and straight people can stand up for gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, and a Muslim Imam can stand with an undocumented worker, that’s why we march,” said Barber.
“We march because love is our ethic not just an emotion. Truth is the centerpiece of our lives not just cute words. We march as symbol of our moral resistance. Not only must we mobilize here but we must go to work back home. We march because we are North Carolina, we march because we are America, and last I checked we ain’t going nowhere,” said Barber.
The HKonJ People’s Assembly Coalition is comprised of the more than 125 North Carolina NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters from across the state and members of over 200 other social justice organizations.
Since its inception eleven years ago, HKonJ achievements include, but are not limited to successfully preventing the unconstitutional resegregation of Wake County Schools (the largest school system in N.C.); an increase in the minimum wage; successful passage of The Racial Justice Act; obtained Same Day voter registration and extended Early Voting; won Smithfield workers their right to unionize; and helped to initiate groundwork for former Governor Beverly Perdue’s “Eugenics Compensation Program Bill.”
The HKonJ Coalition continues its work throughout the year under the banner of the N.C. NAACP’s Forward Together Moral Movement, which mobilizes monthly Monday marches on the capitol across the state.