Dr. Sherri Arnold Graham, a director at Shaw University's Divinity School and a Baptist minister, advocates for Medicaid expansion at Davie Street Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.
On the two-year anniversary of the Moral Monday movement, demonstrators from all over the state will descend upon North Carolina’s General Assembly once again this evening, to instruct our representatives about policies that are for the common good and to engage in some civil disobedience.
At an interfaith press conference Wednesday morning at the Davie Street Presbyterian Church in downtown Raleigh, the Rev. William Barber said demonstrators will protest the General Assembly’s “wrongheaded, and in the deepest theological sense, sinful policies.”
“They have put us on a path of social catastrophe and greed,” Barber said. “We are back because our General Assembly is engaging in a form of political violence.”
An eclectic group of faith leaders from across the state talked about the reasons why they will be demonstrating this legislative session. In their own words:
On voting rights
“The people must have a voice in the government that governs them and our voice is through the vote. A moratorium we demand must be placed on House Bill 589 that clearly discriminates against African American and Latino voters, against the poor and against women voters…Independent investigations have proved again and again there is no voter fraud. So we must ask as the people, what is the problem that is seeking to be solved?”
-The Rev. Robin Tanner, lead minister, Piedmont Universalist Unitarian Church, Charlotte
On health care and Medicaid expansion
“God cares about health care. I’m not sure about some of our leaders. It is imperative that we not only stand together, march together and pray together, but that we demand equal access to health care. Great health care options are available, but they’re not available to everyone. We are all God’s children. Everyone deserves equal access to health care.”
-Dr. Sherri Arnold Graham, Director of Development of Shaw University Divinity School, Raleigh
On workers’ rights and increasing the minimum wage
“It is unjust for this Legislature to fail to raise the minimum wage by allowing the one percent to reap prosperity off of the backs of poverty. It is unjust when there are numerous bills that lay dormant in this Legislature that could easily increase the minimum wage to a wage above poverty. Allow North Carolinians to grow the economy and help working families to make ends meet.”
-Rev. Dr. Gregory Hardee, Senior Pastor, Belton Creek Baptist Church, Oxford
On public education
“I’m showing up this morning to support innovative, high quality and equitable public schools and education. So many of our students are at risk of failing and some recent legislation proposed is looking to repeal funding for special education plans for disadvantaged students. There’s probably nothing that could be more detrimental to the future of our communities than denying those programs to those of the least among our students.
”-Rev. Gordon Meyers, The Church of the Abiding Savior, Lutheran, Durham
On women’s rights
“Despite the tremendous progress made in the struggle for gender equality, women in our state still face violence, discrimination and institutional barriers to equal participation in our society. Despite great strides made by women’s rights movements over the years, women and girls are still married as children or trafficked into forced labor or sex slavery. Here in North Carolina. They are refused access to education and political participation. Deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high and women are prohibited from making deeply personal choices in their private lives.”
-Rev. Dr. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh
On criminal justice reform
“I’ve worked as a chaplain in a prison and I’ve seen the soul-depleting effects of incarceration. I now work as a chaplain in a homeless shelter and I see people released from prison who are lost, unemployed and disconnected from family and friends. I’ve seen the difficulties finding a job with a prison record, I’ve seen families disrupted by long prison sentences. I’ve seen children growing up without parents. Of course we need a robust means of enforcing the law in our state but there is much-needed reform in our criminal justice system. The system is contaminated with racism, overt and covert, conscious and unconscious.
” -Susan Dunlap, Adjunct Professor at Duke Divinity School & Presbyterian minister, Durham
Demonstrators from across the state will gather at Bicentennial Mall at 5 p.m. this evening.