Forward Together, Not One Step Back

The ongoing Moral Monday actions at the NCGA bring together such a wide range of issues concerning North Carolinians that the recurring rally’s program can only focus on a few topics each week in order to give each the attention it deserves.  For example, yesterday’s program focused on environmental policy and healthcare, while next week’s topics will be labor issues, immigration reform and women’s rights.  Moral Mondays’ inclusivity invites participation from a multitude of organizations, including NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, and I feel fortunate that my time here as organizing intern coincides with these historic events.

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The “raging grannies” at the mega moral monday protest on June 3. (Photo Credit: Lillie Elliot)

I began attending the Forward Together Movement’s Local Organizing Tour with my supervisor shortly after starting my summer internship with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina in mid-May. The Tour, which concluded about a week ago, was a project of the North Carolina State Conference NAACP and the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Coalition.  The ambitious 11-day tour held meetings in 25 locations throughout the state.  These meetings served to empower concerned citizens to take action against the current threat of extreme right-wing legislation by bringing like-minded neighbors and local organizations together to voice their concerns and educate one another.  The tour also widely distributed this report card created by Democracy North Carolina, an at-a-glance guide to who your representatives in the state legislature are and which way each is voting on ten of the worst bills in their chamber.

As part of my internship, I attended Forward Together tour stops in Raleigh, Greenville and Durham.  In all three cities I heard the personal accounts of local residents who have felt called to commit civil disobedience as part of the ongoing Moral Mondays protests.  Together these protestors present a strikingly diverse sample of the state’s population, including people of different ages, races, and religious faiths.  Among them are clergy, teachers, doctors, public employees, students and more.  The motivations they each individually cite for protesting are just as varied as their backgrounds, but their stories share a common thread: the understanding that all of their varied struggles are connected, and the resulting need to stand in solidarity against attacks on marginalized groups.

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Summer Interns at NARAL NC pose with Organizing Director, Megann Walsh, at last night’s Moral Monday Protest (the writer is in the middle).

The fight for reproductive rights is one part of the broader movement for social equality that is growing in our state.  A host of social justice issues interlock to create the oppressive system that regulates women’s bodies, sexuality and reproduction.  The lack of power and self-determination that women experience as a result of that system feeds back into the other social issues in their communities.  NARAL Pro-Choice NC uses this framework of reproductive justice to inform our advocacy, understanding that intersectional experiences of race, class, age and so on are components of the structural inequalities that perpetuate women’s oppression among other types of oppression.  We are grateful to the NAACP, both for taking the lead in resisting backwards legislation by organizing Moral Monday demonstrations, and for creating opportunities to raise awareness of the many and varied social justice issues in our state so we can all move Forward Together.

Elizabeth Morris is a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, studying comparative literature.  This summer, she is the organizing intern at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.  In her spare time she likes lifting weights and porch sitting.

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