[The Rev. Dr. William Barber II addresses people at a Moral Monday rally. Wikimedia Commons]
Yesterday, I spent some time reading about the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. Do you know about it?
Starting in 2013, a broad coalition of residents in North Carolina began public demonstrations to speak against a number of state legislative actions which were harming human lives and curtailing democracy. These demonstrations called state government officials and residents to greater moral commitment and decisive, collective action.
The demonstrations were part testimonial as people shared how they have been impacted personally by the loss of voting rights and access, the defunding of public education, harmful changes in labor laws, and unjust realities in the criminal justice system.
The demonstrations also included direct actions. Over the course of several weeks, about a thousand people volunteered themselves for arrest as they entered the legislative building, a location where they were not permitted to protest. These actions gained a great deal of attention from the press and moved hearts and minds, at times, cutting across historically entrenched lines of race, class, religion, and partisanship.
While I am only beginning to learn about this movement in greater detail, I am curious to know more. I imagine there are various pieces to celebrate, consider, and critique, but I wonder if the Moral Monday movement might offer some important visions and lessons for us as we consider this question:
How do we change public discourse about morality and values, so that we honor justice and equity for our neighbors through tangible, collective actions?
Here are some links for your consideration. I’d like to hear from you too. What do you think?
– Renee Roederer
Rev. Dr. William Barber, one of the primary leaders of the Moral Mondays movement, also gave a powerful speech this summer at the DNC Convention. “I don’t come tonight representing any organization,” he started, “but I come to you about faith and morality.” He certainly brought that message home as he talked about justice and reviving “the heart of democracy.” Have a watch and listen: