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Thousands in Asheville Declare: 'This is a Movement'

Moral Monday demonstrations come to mountains as protests 'follow the legislators home'

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

“It’s nothing like being in the mountains with folks who know how to fight,” Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, told a crowd of over 5,000 who packed into Asheville's Pack Square Park Monday evening.

As the Raleigh-based state legislature departed for their summer break, Moral Monday protesters took their demonstration on the road. Monday marked the 14th straight week of calling out the GOP-majority legislature and governor’s attack on education, social and economic equality and voting rights.

The Asheville Police Department gave varying estimates that the crowd swelled to anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 people. 

Cheering on the rousing speakers, protesters sang and carried signs focusing on the many issues currently being wracked by the state GOP: “Don’t steal our water,” “Protect voting rights, “Stop killing public education.”

"If all we do is despair—and even all we do is rally—we will not have met the challenge before us today,"Julie Mayfield, co-director at WNC Alliance, told the crowd. "Everyone has a role. Find yours and together we can put North Carolina back on track."

Later, the Citizen-Times reports, Barber led the crowd in new rendition of a civil rights song, “Ain’t Gonna Let Apodaca Slow Us Down,” —referencing Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Henderson County Republican.

The local NAACP and the other groups behind the demonstrations have vowed to bring the movement to all 13 of North Carolina's congressional districts.

As Barber said during a Monday afternoon news conference, their goal was to "follow the legislators home."

“You can’t do wrong in Raleigh and then hide back home,” he declared during the rally.

Advocating for members of the crowd to get more people registered to vote, Barber said that by taking the protests on the road the people of North Carolina will prove to the government that there is widespread support behind the Moral Monday demonstrations, AP reports.

“This is no momentary hyperventilation and liberal screaming match,” Barber said. “This is a movement.”

Below, watch some of the rousing moments from Barber's speech before the Asheville crowd.

Asheville's Citizen-Times compiled the following video with voices from Mountain Moral Monday.


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