The Moral Monday protests that galvanized disenfranchised voters across North Carolina—and elsewhere—may soon become a regular fixture in the halls of Congress.
On August 1, the NAACP launched a "Journey for Justice" from Selma, Alabama, expected to conclude on September 16 with a rally in the nation's capital. Activists are marching to push for a new, national agenda that includes criminal justice reform, expanded economic equality, and restoration of voting rights—particularly in response to the recent gutting by the Supreme Court of key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP and the leader of the Moral Monday campaign said that the journey will end in D.C. with "massive advocacy and lobbying." However, he added that he's been in conversations with others, including "clergy nationwide, about Moral Monday-type action in the halls of Congress, especially around the denial of Congress to fix the Voting Rights Act."
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In June, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which if enacted would restore the vital protections lost in the Shelby County v. Holder decision. Congress has refused to schedule a hearing on that bill.
The weekly Moral Monday actions first sprang up North Carolina in the spring of 2013 as a response to policies enacted by Republican Governor Pat McCrory and the GOP-run General Assembly—including cuts to social programs, conservative education reforms, a rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage, and changes to voting laws—which protesters call "an assault" on the state's poor and unemployed.
One February 2014 rally drew an estimated 80,000 people while protests under the Moral Monday banner increasingly spread across the South, appearing in Georgia and South Carolina, and even a number of northern cities including Albany, Chicago, and Ferguson.