More than a thousand people gathered at Halifax Mall Monday evening, to mark the sixtieth week of Moral Mondays since the movement began last April.
Following a series of speakers, much of the crowd moved into the Legislative building for a “Sit-in, Stand-in, Teach-in, Plan-in, Pray-in.” People split up into groups to plan for a statewide voter registration, education and mobilization campaign for the November election.
The Reverend William Barber called the gathering “the largest mass sit-in in a Southern Legislature.”
Fifteen people were arrested for civil disobedience, bringing the total number arrested as part of Moral Monday to more than a thousand.
Major issues speakers and protesters focused on included healthcare, LGBTQ rights, education and voting rights. They used recent polling results to make their case for the legislature’s extremism.
Former secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, Carmen Hooker Odom, argued for expanding Medicaid.
She asked whether “the men who run this sate—” House Speaker Tillis, Senate President pro-tem Berger, Governor McCrory and Art Pope— “know how smart it would be to expand Medicaid.”
“They don’t want that federal Medicaid money to protect our rural hospitals,” she told the crowd. “Our taxes are going to other states. They’re protecting their rural hospitals. We’re not.”
David Bland, an advocate for veterans’ affairs, also had words for the state leaders, noting that many residents being affected by their decisions are veterans.
“They don’t feel our veterans have sacrificed enough,” Bland said. “They are being asked to make even greater sacrifices so rich people can get richer and the powerful don’t have to look at the needs of the poor and the sick.”
The next phase of the Moral movement is the Moral March to the Polls Campaign, and Moral Monday events will take place in other cities across the state.
Along with efforts to quash the movement with arrests and new rules, leaders on the right have downplayed, ridiculed and questioned the effectiveness of Moral Monday.
In an interview Friday, Governor McCrory bashed the movement
, saying whenever there are arrests “there are more media than protesters there.”
This was not the case yesterday.
“When they deride us, call us outsiders and morons,” the Rev. Barber said, “it is because they cannot debate us on constitutional or moral grounds. They can’t make their case. It doesn’t make sense economically, morally or historically.”