Moral Mondays: The Battle For Justice Cannot Be Waged Only in the Courts

Moral Monday protests in Raleigh, NC on July 15th, 2013 (via Wikipedia)

On a warm day in July 2013, I found myself on the wrong end of a canceled flight out of RDU Airport.  I used the opportunity to travel into downtown Raleigh to observe one of the early Moral Monday rallies at the State Capitol. The gathering was ostensibly called to protest the legislature’s newly gerrymandered district map – among the most tortured in the nation.

I expected to find a group of committed, passionate citizens (mostly people of color) voicing their disfavor about a process and outcome that had callously ignored almost every aspect of their public input and testimony.

thirdreconthumbI was happily surprised to see that the signs and placards belonging to this particular group were part of a much larger collective that had braved the heat. Short of an inauguration or convention, this rally was one of the biggest political gatherings that I have ever witnessed. The Capitol’s grassy quad (about the size of a football field) was packed with an array of people from all over North Carolina.

People had come to rally on behalf of voting rights, but there were groups representing issues ranging from environmental justice to LGBT equality to the rights of immigrants. The legislature saw a spirited and energized cross-section of North Carolina that was willing to speak up for the state’s interest and ready to act on its behalf – both through a sit-in at the legislature as well as further rallies to stop policies aimed at eroding the principles of equality and opportunity.

Rev. Barber’s new book shows that the blueprint for Moral Mondays was neither hastily devised nor without strong philosophical foundation. In the midst of both social and legal assaults on advancements of the Civil Rights Era, the author issues a new call to action that is both social and personal. Weaving his own personal narrative with a cutting assessment of the current state of play, Rev. Barber provides a fresh look at America’s most daunting challenge. His analysis recognizes that the courts are necessary but not sufficient arenas within which to wage this campaign. We have to transform public thinking about these issues. Rev. Barber’s prescription to confront what he calls a crisis of culture does not try to sweep aside specific regional, religious or racial differences, but it does embrace the necessity of incorporating everyone whose voices have gone unheard.

See here for Peter Laarman’s interview with Rev. William Barber, and here for the full range of responses.