[Marxism] North Carolina moral march
jbustelo at gmail.com
Sat Feb 22 20:33:11 MST 2014
[Note to marxmail subbers: the Solidarity "members-and-cops-only" email
list comments that prompted this post are below my own.]
I was at the Raleigh "Moral March." Drove up from Atlanta because my son
was in a production of a new stage adaptation of George Orwell's Animal
Farm (Lucas was playing the Stalinist über hack Squealer) at Guilford
College in Greensboro, which is just an hour and a half from Raleigh.
The rally was held on Fayetteville Street which extends a half mile from
the capitol to the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center, an area perhaps
900 yards deep by 30 wide. It was full, completely packed for the first
200 yards or so, and after that more loosely, with a little breathing
room but not sparse. Several times they called from the platform for
people to pack in a little closer so that those still trying to get into
the rally area could do so,
The old rule of thumb from the anti-Vietnam War days was that you could
have 5-7 people in 10 square yards if they were sitting on the ground
next to each other, 2-3 times as many if all were standing. By that
measure this would have been 40,000-60,000 people in the rally area, as
all were standing, plus however many were on side streets.
Organizers said it was 80,000-100,000 people. They said this was the
largest civil rights protest in the South since the 1960s. I am aware of
only one other protest of comparable size in the region, the Latino
immigrant rights march in Atlanta on April 10, 2006, which police
estimated at 75,000 people. But that was strictly a local, not
southeast-wide event, and one that was publicized almost exclusively
among Latinos, and was 99.9% Latino.
At any rate, the NC event was clearly WAY more than organizers
anticipated. The rally permit request estimated 20,000 people; in
keeping with that estimate, three jumbotrons were set up, but the
farthest one from the stage was perhaps 200 yards into the crowd.
Politicians, newspaper scribblers and TV gasbags had been making fun of
the organizer's claims that /dozens/ of buses and /thousands/ of people
would be coming. Their reaction was to cover both ears with the palms of
their hands while loudly shouting "la-la-la what march are you talking
about? I can't hear you. La-la-la."
People/groups that I personally encountered or spotted came from DC,
Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, not
just the Carolinas. If I had to guess I'd say overall the crowd was
2/3rds anglo, 1/3rd Black but that is a very rough ballpark estimate.
By far the most visible organizational presence was the NAACP. At a
glance you could see that this was a movement led by the NAACP. Even as
the crowd was dispersing at the end, the bottleneck was at the NAACP
T-shirt and bumper-sticker selling tents.
A surprising (to me) second place in visible presence was held by the
unitarian universalists; there was also a good sprinkling of people
identifying with other religious denominations including (among whites)
Jews, Methodists and Episcopalians. There were signs from various Young
Democrats college campus affiliates. I saw a couple of signs from a
teachers' union, and just one calling for immigrant rights.
I ran into comrades from Socialist Alternative selling their newspaper
and talking up Sawant's Seattle victory. I did not come across any
other socialist or left group with a visible presence.
It had very much the feel and obvious intent of trying to evoke and
resurrect the 1960s southern civil rights coalition of Black folks and
white liberal churches with an overall religious veneer.
By far the most common signs around specific issues were those alluding
to attacks on voting rights and the influence of moneyed interests on
electoral politics, followed by references to Medicaid expansion. (As it
turns out, medicaid expansion is pretty popular in the Southeast; polls
in Georgia, for example, show it has majority support, unlike the Muslim
communist Kenyan atheist terrorist abomination of Obamacare.)
But the overwhelming tone was disgust and repudiation of Republican
state government attacks on everything from education to unemployment
insurance to safeguarding the environment.
The presence of the union movement was feeble; the state AFL-CIO either
failed to notice this event was happening or heard about it but decided
to go back to sleep anyways. There was, of course, a presence from the
couple of North Carolina locals that brothers and sisters from some
organizations have been influential members of for some time.
Apart from the one sign I mentioned and just one among the 2-3 dozen
"you-have-30-seconds" rally speakers, there was no Latino presence even
though the Raleigh-Durham metro area is more than 10% Latino (about the
same as the Atlanta metro area).
The main orator was the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the
state NAACP and described in the press hand outs as "convener" of the
He was introduced as follows:
"Every moment in history brings out a leader, every moment in history
brings out a moral leader, every moment in history has its own prophet,
and North Carolina has raised a prophet in these times, for this time.
He is here to speak to us today, to inspire us, to give us the truth. to
encourage us. He is a man of integrity, a man of deep faith, and he is
why we've gathered, to march with him, to restore justice to our state.
Give it up for the Rev. Dr. William Barber."
He projected a clear and unambiguous pro-Democrat electoralist strategy
of registering voters and turning them out in November covered with the
barest fig-leaf of "regardless of party" disclaimers.
In between his introduction and his political projections, I found
myself disinclined to edit and post the video of his speech that I had
recorded. I found it to be that off-putting. I prefer my prophets to be
unaccompanied by a Squealer ... or a bourgeois party.
* * *
That night, back in Greensboro, I chatted with other Guilford College
parents as well as profs and some students I've gotten to know, making
it a point to mention I was at this event. Everyone was aware of the
moral Monday movement, and most were aware of the march, and
enthusiastically welcomed the news of its spectacular success.
I didn't get to finish telling my own Squealer my conflicted feelings
before he cut in with words to the effect that this whole "moral Monday"
shtick seemed a little flaky. Still, he said, getting that many people
out was more significant than it flakiness.
On 2/17/2014 11:49 AM, Robert C. wrote:
> I saw the article in Labor Notes by Ajamu Dillahunt
> and one on SW
> I did see that Joaquin posted photos on social media but not sure if
> those were a repost or if he was there himself.
> Robert C. (DFW Texas)
> On Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:36 AM, Eric <eschuster3 at gmail.com
> <mailto:eschuster3 at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Anyone participating in the North Carolina demos, or organizing?
> Or links to good assessments? Thanks
> Eric S
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