By JACKSON NEWBY, age 10
On Monday, April 29, 2013, a group of North Carolina residents gathered at the state capitol in Raleigh and held the first in a series of peaceful, grassroots rallies to voice opposition to conservative policies imposed by the Republican-dominated state government. The demonstrations have become known as the Moral Mondays Movement.
The main targets of the protests are policies that (a) would prevent 500,000 low-income uninsured people from receiving Medicaid, (b) end unemployment benefits to 170,000, (c) cut pre-K education funding for 30,000 kids and (d) make it harder for the poor, African Americans and the elderly to vote because of strict voter ID laws.
These laws were passed after Republicans in North Carolina won the governor’s office in 2012 and majorities in the state house and senate in 2010 with $40 million in campaign contributions from businessman Art Pope. Pope claims that his donations simply “educate[d] voters on the issues” and are “the core of the First Amendment.”
Moral Mondays protesters disagree. “We have come to say to the extremists, who ignore the common good and have chosen the low road, your actions have worked in reverse,” said Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday Movement. “The more you try to oppress us, the more you will inspire us,” he said.
The movement has spread to other states, such as Georgia and South Carolina. People are confident that the protests will bring about positive change. “The changes we need to make in Georgia to transform the state are going to take years,” said Georgia organizer Tim Franzen, “[b]ut our victory is inevitable.”
Grassroots – a bottom-up political movement organized and led by a community
Medicaid – Government-funded health insurance for low-income Americans
Voter ID laws – laws that require people to have an approved form of photo identification in order to vote