July 15, 2013

I think there is a lot of pent-up anger in this country, but leaders rarely do the work of bringing people together to effect change. Look at what they've done in North Carolina. When leaders lead, people respond:

Megan Katsaounis was born and raised in North Carolina, and while she’s always been highly critical of mainstream Democratic officials, she’s grown concerned watching “horrible bills” pass through the Republican-controlled Senate.

“Every week, there’s something new to be outraged about. They repealed the Racial Justice Act. We’re now the first state to be disqualified from receiving federal funds for the long-term unemployed. The list of grievances goes on and on,” she said.

Katsaounis wanted to participate in Moral Monday since she first heard about the protests, but as a mom, “childcare is always a hurdle.” Finally, when the infamous anti–Sharia Law omni-bill was being debated in the senate, Katsaounis got so angry she skipped work to go witness it.

Last week, North Carolina lawmakers voted to add a series of sweeping anti-abortion regulations to a measure to ban the “application of foreign law” in family courts, an “anti-Sharia Law” bill that many opponents say is a thinly veiled attempt at stoking anti-Muslim sentiment in the state.

“I think that was a rallying point for a lot of people,” Katsaounis said. “That night, my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday and I said, ‘I want you to babysit so I can go to Moral Monday.’”

“I wish I was in a position to be arrested. A lot of us are angry at the direction our state is going and we’re feeling very helpless right now. Being hauled away in handcuffs seems like a very tangible way of taking a stand, and I love how volunteers support the arrestees, providing meals for everyone upon release. It’s inspiring,” she added.

Amy McKee joined the protests for the first time on Monday.

“I’m very concerned about the laws that are being presented that limit women’s rights and access to birth control and abortion,” McKee said. “I have daughters. I’m really concerned about their future.”

The last time Rev. Frederick Battle was arrested was in 1962’s historic Woolworth’s department store sit-in in Greensboro, a pivotal moment in the US civil rights movement. He was among those arrested on Monday.

“What scares me about today is that I see similarities that we are going back to those days, back to the ’60’s,” Battle told WRAL.

Self-proclaimed “soccer mom” Christine Lang also joined the protests.

“When we start to restrict these rights, we’re going back hundreds of years in this country and it scares me for my daughter and myself, actually.”

Rev. William Barber II, head of the state branch of the NAACP, leads the Moral Monday protests.

“We see what we are doing here in North Carolina as a model for other Southern states,” Barber said. “History tells us you only win, particularly in the South, when you find a way to bring people together around common constitutional values and common moral values.”

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