July 15, 2013, and it’s finally hot. I’d mistakenly thought the rest of the summer had been pretty hot (being a Michigan transplant who has never experienced a Southern summer), but this is Carolina hot. The Moral Monday crowd tried to find shade from the trees and buildings to either side of Halifax mall. Sweat ran freely down everyone’s faces, and turned my shoes into a swamp. But despite the intense heat, there were more people in attendance than any previous Moral Monday.
Many of the protest signs centered around women’s issues, as this had been designated Women’s Moral Monday. My sign, for instance, said: “Sorry, my uterus was too busy voting to make you a sandwich.” There were other signs touching on other issues, such as fracking, voting rights, justice for Trayvon, and of course one or two “Where’s Pat?” signs making fun of Governor McCrory for allegedly going to Moral Monday incognito (no one has any evidence that this is true). In a misguided attempt to protest the protest, two or three anti-abortion protesters stood toward the back of the crowd. Hilariously, people with adamantly pro-choice signs stood in front of them, blocking the anti-choice signs:
The speakers were, as always, intersectional, speaking to issues of poverty and race and education, or issues of prison reform and women’s rights, within the scope of a single speech. My favorite speaker was a 92-year-old woman who spoke about voting rights. She recalled going to register to vote as a young woman in 1934, telling the story of two white men belittling her and making her jump through hoops like reciting the preamble to the Constitution. In her lifetime she has registered thousands and thousands of people to vote. If only we can all be that active and engaged our entire lives.
After much of the speaking was done, we went inside the legislature building to stand on the second floor of the rotunda. The building filled up:
We sang, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and several people spoke briefly although I couldn’t catch more than a few words of what they were saying since the architecture amplified background noise to a distracting degree. Then the police ordered us to disperse, saying they would begin arrests in five minutes. At that announcement, somebody on the top floor started cheering and everyone joined in, cheering and clapping and drowning out the warning.
Although those on the top floor aren’t risking arrest yet, we left pretty quickly anyway, to join the crowd outside.
Someone had brought a drum, and beat it as we chanted:
Unlike last week, we didn’t end up staying until the arrested protesters were taken away, but we stayed for a while, and when we left, we drove past all the remaining protesters:
In the end, I think this sign sums up the continued force and voice of Moral Monday, and the reason that we’re getting attention from people across the United States…and little to no attention from our elected officials:
And here’s a few more pictures:
Next week’s theme is voting rights. Stay tuned for more updates, and if you’re in North Carolina, get down to Raleigh next Monday! See you there!