About three months ago, Moral Monday protests began in North Carolina in response to the Republican controlled legislature that was quickly enacting right wing laws rolling the state’s progress backwards.
Most recently, the General Assembly amended the state’s voting laws in a manner that will make it harder, particularly for minorities, to participate in elections. Voters must now show ID at the polls (the type of ID deemed valid in limited and many voters do not possess what is considered proper identification under the new law), eliminates same day voter registration, abolishes pre-registration for 16-17 year olds and much more (source). Every policy they did away with was the type of policy that improves voter registration and engagement. It is exactly the type of action a governing body takes when attempting to suppress voting.
On Monday North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation that will severely limit a woman’s access to abortion services. Doctors working in abortion clinics must have admitting privileges at local hospitals and publicly funded health insurances will not be able to pay for abortions. This despite abortion being a legal medical procedure in the United States. Reproductive justice advocates fear that many clinics will not be able to meet the new standards.
The state legislature has made extreme cuts to unemployment benefits and to medicaid, and the state’s budget has been cut or plans to eliminate funding much needed programs. For example, the Republican led legislature plans to cut $2,000,000 from the N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, this cut constitutes 70% of the nonprofits’ budget which means they must reorganize or close its doors.
The same article reports that Biofuels North Carolina, which lost the entirety of their state funding, will close. A more recent article states that Biofuel is attempting to stay afloat by cutting jobs. The center employs 78 workers. They are asking older workers to voluntarily resign (source).
North Carolina’s schools have not been spared from the wrath of the General Assembly. The state’s budget moved to faze out tenure, eliminated bonuses for teaches that earn a Masters degree, and continue a freeze on teachers salaries which have already been in place for the past five years. They will also be cut funding for classroom aides as well as increasing the size of classrooms.
Recently, North Carolina became the first state to disqualify itself from federal unemployment benefits funding. Additionally, the legislature reduced the number of weeks out of work residents are eligible for unemployment benefits as well as reduced weekly payouts.
This week was the final Moral Monday as the General Assembly closed its session for the year. Since the protest started this spring, over 900 people have been voluntarily arrested for civil disobedience. Winn Bassett and Nick Pironio from The Atlantic wrote an excellent account about volunteering for arrest at a Moral Monday demonstration that you can read here.
Moral Monday was organized by Reverend William Barber, President of North Carolina’s NAACP, and you can listen to or read the transcript of an interview he did this week with NPR here.
On Thursday August 1st Social Work Chats by Social Work Helper will be be discussing moral Monday and where the movement goes next.
To participate you need a Twitter account. Please include the hashtag #swunited in all your tweets. The chat will begin at 8:00 PM EST. Deona Hooper will be moderating from the Social Work Helper Twitter account, @swhelpercom. You can find out more about Social Work Chats by visiting Social Work Helper.
photo credit: gnuru via photopin cc