Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Letter to Governor McCrory

Many have come to associate this summer's Moral Monday events in North Carolina with large crowds and mass arrests.  Indeed, the crowds ranged as large as ten thousand by some estimates, and 930 citizens were jailed over a twelve week period.  As dramatic as these events were, and as impressive the numbers, the smaller, ancillary events have been important too.  And for me, perhaps more memorable.

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.

The letter bore Rev. Barber's signature, and those assembled wereinvited to sign. Pages were appended to accommodate the many additional signatures.

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 late June heat and humidity were somehow more bearable as we emerged from the Capitol.  We shared a sense of purpose and a renewed optimism.  As we walked back to the church we knew that justice would prevail in the end.

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.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Voter Photo ID Protestors Arrested

On April 29, 2013, less than a week after the NC House passed a voter photo ID bill, the NAACP called for a prayer vigil and a "stand-in" civil disobedience action at the General Assembly.

Anticipating arrests, several dozen citizen-activists responded. Seventeen spent the night in the Wake County jail.

Given what we've seen of the current regime, there will probably be more such actions soon.

photos ...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fair Fight

On tax day, 2013, the North Carolina AFL-CIO and NC Justice Center staged a symbolic wrestling match between the Champion of the People and the Champion of the Powerful. The event injected a little levity into an otherwise somber climate created by the current regime in North Carolina.

The Durham Luchadoras, a masked female group wrestling in the Mexican Lucha Libre tradition, carried the day in front of the NC General Assembly in Raleigh. The Story

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Not In Her Shoes

In 2013, the struggle for women's rights continued in North Carolina. A new regime in the NC General Assembly threatens intrusive procedures and other limitations on women seeking to determine their reproductive destinies.

On March 20 organizations including NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW and the ACLU rallied in Raleigh to protest legislators' efforts to turn the clock back to coat-hanger days.

Photos from the event are here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Occupy the Courts

January 20, 2012 was Occupy the Courts day.  Demonstrators gathered at courthouses across the country to press for a constitutional amendment reversing the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

Photos from the Raleigh, North Carolina event are here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Moyers Interviews Hacker and Pierson

Bill Moyers is back! And here he interviews Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, authors of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.

This is a disturbing view of the status quo, but there's hope. Watch this one to the end!