Rev. William Barber, N.C. NAACP, is calling for mass voting rights protests in N.C.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The leader of the “Moral Monday” protests intends to use a speech Saturday to outline plans for the movement’s future, including a mass march in July to coincide with a federal hearing about North Carolina’s voter rights laws and intensive local organizing at the county level.
The Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, told The Associated Press that he will discuss the future of the movement, more broadly called Forward Together, when he speaks to the local NAACP chapter in Greensboro.
The mass march tied to voting rights will be held July 13 in Winston-Salem, where the federal hearing is scheduled that same day. People from across the nation are being asked to march, he said.
“The call is that North Carolina is our Selma,” Barber said. “People came to Selma in 1965. We’re calling people to come to North Carolina in 2015.”
North Carolina’s new voting law, considered one of the toughest in the nation, eliminates same-day registrationduring early voting and voids ballots cast outside a person’s assigned precinct on Election Day. The law also reduces early voting to 10 days and adds a voter identification requirement in 2016.
North Carolina legislators passed the law after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case called Shelby v. Holder, ruled that parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 no longer applied to states.
“We believe that our case, being the first and worst since Shelby, really is the gauge,” Barber said. “If we win, we push back on voter suppression. A loss will set us back years.”
The NAACP will be back in court at the end of August to argue against North Carolina’s redistricting plan. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a North Carolina ruling that upheld Republican-drawn electoral districts for state and congressional lawmakers.
State judges were told to consider whether lawmakers relied too much on race when they drew boundaries that increased minority representation in Raleigh while boosting GOP fortunes.
Republicans have said they’re confident the courts will uphold the voting laws and redistricting.
The group also is continuing its weekly Moral Monday protests at the General Assembly, although they’re now held on Wednesdays. Other plans include more intensive organizing at the county level after a few Republicans, especially two-term Rep. Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County, lost to Democrats, Barber said.
Possible plans in 2016 include another poverty tour, like the one the NAACP undertook in 2012, where Barber and other activists visit poverty-stricken areas. The NAACP also plans to organize a youth movement and citizenship schools in 2016, Barber said.
Meanwhile, Barber plans to return in June from a three-month sabbatical during which he’s spent much time studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York, meeting with scholars and speaking to various groups.