Area residents demand Congressional Reps. hold public Town HallBy Yasmine Regester / March 3, 2017
A group of about 100 people representing the Greensboro branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with other North Carolina NAACP branches, Forward Together Moral Movement supporters, and coalition partners gathered to deliver a letter to Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) of the Sixth District.
The group, which included NAACP representatives from Alamance, Randolph, and Guilford counties, visited Walker’s Greensboro office on Monday, February 27 to present a letter comprised of public policy demands and to request Walker hold a public Town Hall by the end of March.
“We believe our human and constitutional rights are non-negotiable,” said Bradley Hunt, the third vice president of the Greensboro NAACP branch.
The visit was one of 15 simultaneous news conferences and letter deliveries held at House and Senate Congressional offices across the state.
The letter included six key demands to legislators: 1. Vote against the repeal of the life-saving Affordable Care Act that millions of North Carolinians depend on. 2. Oppose any executive orders or legislation that will deport immigrants and their families. 3. Restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. 4. Oppose any executive orders or legislation that will ban or attack refugees or Muslims. 5. Publicly renounce the misrepresentation about voter fraud and oppose the widespread voter suppression spreading across the country. 6. Support the NAACP call for living wages and union rights.
“This visit is part of our ongoing efforts to hold our elected officials accountable at every level,” said Greensboro branch president, Rev. Cardes Brown. “We’re here to make known our concern for the well-being of our brothers and sisters across this district.”
As congress works to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) put in place under the administration of former President Barack Obama, people like Greensboro resident Jennifer Mangrum are asking Congressman Walker to support the people.
Mangrum’s brother who is 12 years older than her, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and relies on ACA to afford and receive treatment. At 50 years old, Mangrum’s brother found himself unemployed and without health insurance, and did not qualify for Medicaid.
“The repeal of affordable healthcare doesn’t affect me directly and doesn’t affect Congressman Walker directly. We are privileged and we are healthy. Repealing the Affordable Care Act will leave poor patients at the mercy of state officials who have shown very little concern for the health of the poor,” said Mangrum.
“What happened to my brother could happen to any of us, one day employed, covered, then hit by a devastating disease and our world is changed forever,” she added.
Vashti Hinton, a political science student at N.C. A&T State University and first vice president of the Youth & College Division of the Greensboro NAACP, reiterated that the voice of the people matters.
“Stop being unfair to the people of North Carolina. Everyone has one vote and it should not be out-powered by big money and politics. To the people, it is our duty to hold those accountable who we elect to represent us,” said Hinton.
Fernando Jimenez, a photojournalism student at Guilford College and an immigrant says he fears for his mother’s safety everyday she leaves home for work.
“I have seen how the president’s executive orders have instilled fear in the Latino communities. Every night my mother drives to work, an action taken for granted by many. It’s a nightmare for my mom. Every night I call her to make sure she has not been detained,” said Jimenez.
A resident of North Carolina for 10 years, Jimenez said he has observed the rising fear in the immigrant community.
“No, we do not run the state, but we make the state run,” said Jimenez stating that undocumented workers are overworked and underpaid.
The National NAACP Board of Directors announced a resolution on February 24, calling for an international economic boycott of the state of North Carolina in response to actions of a state’s majority conservative General Assembly. Additionally, the NAACP has said it will create an internal task force to examine the ways in which the economic boycott can be expanded throughout the state as well as replicated in other states that have enacted similar racist voter suppression laws and laws like HB-2 which discriminates against the LGBTQ community, workers, and municipalities wanting to increase their minimum wage.
In a statement from Jack Minor, D.C. communications director for Rep.Walker, Minor wrote that Walker has hosted two town halls (Chatham and Randolph Counties) and held dozens of meetings with hundreds of constituents this year. He added, based on the congressman’s schedule, the next possible town hall meeting would not be until April.
The statement further read as follows: “Congressman Walker has worked hard to address the issues that are important to everyone in our community. We were encouraged by the local NAACP visit, their political engagement, and the opportunity to discuss our event this week hosting more than 85 of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for an event to bring bipartisan support to their schools – two of which are in Greensboro, and eleven in North Carolina. We hope the local NAACP will reach out to arrange a time when Congressman Walker can join them to discuss how we can work together to improve our community,” said Minor.