Thousands of people are expected to march in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, some coming in buses from other states, to call on North Carolina legislators to reverse laws they’ve signed over the last year including requiring voters to show IDs in polling stations, reducing unemployment benefits and blocking Medicaid expansion.
The march, which has largely been organized by the state NAACP, follows a year-long movement known as Moral Mondays that mobilized thousands to the state capitol building and cities across the state. They protested the state’s Republican-controlled government, which they said was writing “regressive” policies, and in turn drew rebuke from governmental leaders.
In the eve of the march, and in a representation of the tone of dialogue over the last year, liberal and conservative leaders took turns calling the other side extremist.
State NAACP President Rev. William Barber, the unofficial leader of the Moral Monday movement, said the priorities Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had set for the state this year would hurt minorities and poor people.
“We are challenging what the governor is calling the Carolina Comeback,” Barber said in a press conference Tuesday. “This is the Carolina Setback.”
In return, state GOP Chairman Claude Pope told reporters Friday that the Moral Monday movement is “radical left-wing” activism and said Barber was trying to “eviscerate” Republican leaders.
“Barber’s use of inflammatory, divisive, and offensive rhetoric has no place in the public arena of ideas,” Pope said, according to WRAL-TV. “We need to have a respectful, political discourse here in North Carolina.”
Saturday’s march, which builds on an annual tradition started in 2007 called Historic Thousands on Jones Street, after the address of the state legislative building, will draw people coming in buses from Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts and Virginia, organizers said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
National leaders of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland and the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, have said they’re also joining the rally. McCrory and other elected leaders have said the Moral Monday marches are led by out-of-state leaders looking to “change the subject” of conversation in the state.