On Friday June 21, the week of Moral Monday 7, the NAACP held a press conference in a church adjacent to the state Capitol where the governor's office is located. After a brief prayer, Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, read a letter addressed to Governor Pat McCrory in which yet another request to meet was expressed.
After the media people packed up their equipment and departed, the signators accompanied Rev. Barber across the street to the Governor's office.
After pausing briefly for a symbolic “hands-on” gesture, we entered the Capitol to deliver the letter. The Governor was “not available” according to his communications director who greeted us cordially and accepted the letter on McCrory's behalf. I do not know if the Governor ever replied.
The letter was just one of many attempts this hot summer to petition for redress of grievances, a constitutional right. It was partly symbolic in that a reply was not really expected, not from McCrory.
The media largely ignored this small episode as it lacked the drama of large crowds and civil disobedience. But when histories of the Moral Monday movement are written, as surely they will be, the letter and others like it will be more than footnotes. And for me, its delivery will be a sweet and indelible memory.
The image of hands on the letter conveys some sense of the movement's diversity. Racial diversity comes to mind first, gender next. Then there is diversity of attire, with some in suits, some in t-shirts. But the photograph has an extra meaning for me.
Throughout the summer I often found it necessary to decide whether to participate as an activist or, instead, as a documentarian. Sometimes the decision was clear-cut and unwavering. Not so in this instance. I started out with my hand on the document beside Rev. Barber's but then sensed that I should instead be photographing. But for injecting myself into the action at the outset, I would not have been in position to make the shot. I am grateful that I was able to do both, and that the letter bears my signature.