Leader of NC NAACP, Moral Mondays speaks at Appalachian

Michael Bragg

The Rev. William Barber II spoke about the need for a moral movement in North Carolina and throughout the nation at Appalachian State University’s Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts on Monday night.

Barber is president of the North Carolina State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, organizer of the Moral Monday movement and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church-Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro.

The Forward Together Moral Mondays Movement of Watauga County sponsored the event as well as a press conference, according to a press release. The event was open to the public.

Barber focused on the idea of moral dissent throughout history, speaking of figures such as Jesus Christ, William Lloyd Garrison, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr., who all used moral dissent in disagreeing with the morality of governmental decisions.

“If we do not know from whence we have come, we as a people will go backwards,” he said.

Barber said that unless people understand the history, they will never understand North Carolina’s current situation as anything more than Republicans against Democrats.

“This movement is sturdy, strong and sound,” he said. “It is agenda-based, not individual-based, and it recognizes that we are going to leave no county untouched or unorganized.”

The movement will not be isolated into just one area and is meant to bring together people across different lines, Barber said.

“One thing about extremism is that it always overreaches,” he said. “It always provides a perfect contrast, so it is in this moment of extremism that people can actually see what is at stake.”

Barber is calling for Gov. Pat McCrory to call a special redemption session during the upcoming holiday season to rescind on policies that have been established since his election. Regardless of the outcome of that calling, Barber said that there are plans to have a mass march on Raleigh on Feb. 8, 2014.

“It is our time now,” Barber said. “We are here today because there is a better way. The soul of our state is at stake and we must fight to protect it.”

Gregory Reck, a professor in the Department of Anthropology, said that Barber speaks powerfully about regaining our moral compass and works diligently to restore basic human rights to education, a living wage, health care and happiness.

“I believe that a significant function of higher education is to prepare students to be critically aware of the actual sources of human problems and to provide them with the inspiration and the tools to be active, informed and engaged citizens,” Reck said.

Reck is also a member of the local High Country Forward Together Moral Movement.
Concerning Moral Mondays, Barber said that acts of moral construction will always be met by acts of immoral deconstruction.

In 22 Moral Monday events, 941 people have been arrested for civil disobedience, which has garnered nationwide recognition.

“Something is not right when a group has power and uses it for wrong,” Barber said. “The only job of holding office is to benefit the whole.”

When speaking about student involvement in the moral movement at the press conference, Barber said students are at the center of the entire process.

“Students are mobilizing like never before,” Barber said. “[The NAACP has] branches on almost every campus.”

Barber said that students should be deeply offended to the point at which they get on the offense concerning matters such as on-campus precincts.

“[Students] must do what past generations have done by getting up and making their voices heard,” Barber said. “Students must see themselves not as a part of tomorrow’s movement, but as a critical part of the movement today.”

Barber, who recently turned 50 years old, said that students and the youth must interpret these extreme policies as being more against them than him.

“If we do not act, these policies being put in place will have an impact on many generations ahead,” Barber said. “We are fighting to keep the present extreme leadership of the [North Carolina] General Assembly from having an influence beyond their political life.”

Barber has been a state leader in the fight for voter rights, health care reform, labor and worker rights and serves as a defender of the poor, according to the press release.

Senior global studies and public relations major Amanda Moore serves as the president for Appalachian’s Amnesty International chapter. The group focuses on social justice and human rights issues.

“Rev. Barber demonstrated how the issues affect our state transcend party lines and any political affiliation,” Moore said. “We must be able to come together as people to create a better world. Only through collaboration can these social ills be remedied.”

Story: GERRIT VAN GENDEREN, News Reporter