Moral Mondays and North Carolina’s Attack on the Poor and Working Class

photo credit: CASEY TOTH —

This spring, RG members from North Carolina participated in Moral Mondays—huge weekly gatherings opposing an extreme right wing agenda that successfully cut taxes on the rich and corporations, raised taxes on the bottom 80% of income earners, and drastically limited access to unemployment benefits, Medicaid, food assistance, abortions, and the right to vote.  The plan will leave the state short of $700 million per year, guaranteeing future cuts to education and other social programs. While Moral Mondays weren’t successful at stopping the tax and program cuts, momentum from the organizing has expanded into strong grassroots organizing for racial and economic justice throughout the state.

Moral Mondays brought together a broad coalition that mirrored the breadth of attacks on workers, people of color, women, children, and the unemployed.  As RG Member Chris Heavener reflected,

I went to the rallies by myself a couple of times. One afternoon I remember whomever was speaking at the dais on the mall asked everyone in the crowd to join hands to sing a round of ‘lean on me’. I was able to stifle my cynicism long enough to look at an older lady standing next to me, wearing a t-shirt in support of the teachers union, never met her before in my life, but I offered to hold her hand. We sang for a little while, and when the song was over we talked for a bit, she told me she was from out near the mountains and she’d thought ‘all this’ (in reference to the sweeping legislation) was over in the 60’s. She didn’t believe she’d have to be out here again, fighting. Going to the rallies by myself made me at first apprehensive and made me feel a little alienated, but after engaging with people it made me feel a lot more connected to the community.

One of the more powerful speeches I heard was in the rotunda of the House of Representatives. A local successful business man spoke up and said something to the effect that he was from the 1%. He went on to express that the economic and social policies being implemented at the state level were destructive to the NC economy and further steps taken to disenfranchise poor and working class people would have detrimental implications to the state for decades to come. He underscored the irrationality of the theory behind the policies: even the people supposedly benefiting from the budget cuts recognize them as deeply flawed.

In addition to participating the protests, several RG members signed on to a letter opposing the tax cuts with other people in the top 5%. Part of the letter reads:

During the most difficult economic times in our state, those of us at the top have managed not only to survive but continue to thrive. It is not fair to the majority of our residents to decrease our tax load at the expense of our public schools’ ability to educate our children, or our local governments’ ability to provide services without raising taxes, or our most vulnerable citizens’ ability to obtain health care and other life-saving services.

RG’s North Carolina is continuing to learn about the impacts of the tax cuts together, and to see where they might be able to support grassroots organizing efforts.  Most recently, they hosted a representative from the NC Justice Center.