Haywood residents join Moral Monday march
More than 20 Haywood County residents made the trek to Raleigh Feb. 8 because of their concern about the radical regressive turn North Carolina has taken since 2012.
Promoted as the largest mass moral march since the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965, Saturday’s march drew between 80,000 and 100,000 people from across North Carolina and 32 other states — more than doubling organizers’ expectations.
The marchers were as diverse as their issues: young, old and in between; black, white, brown, yellow and red; straight and gay; people of deep faith and people of no particular faith. What they had in common was their concern about the regressive legislation passed in the most recent session of the North Carolina General Assembly.
From voter suppression and the repeal of public financing for judicial races to restrictions on women’s access to health care and refusal to expand Medicaid; from rejection of federal emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed to vouchers for private schools which cannibalize public school funding; from tax cuts for the wealthiest in the State to the repeal of the Earned Income Tax Credit for her lowest-earning citizens; and from the repeal of the Racial Justice Act to weakening of environmental oversight and inequitable treatment of immigrants and LGBT citizens, marchers had plenty to be concerned about.
John Vanderstar, a retired attorney living in Canton, said, “I am deeply saddened to see North Carolina surrendering to right-wing militants whose priorities are all wrong.”
Rev. Walter Bryson, a Waynesville resident who pastors the Shiloh A.M.E. Zion Church in Asheville, was among the 280 Western North Carolinians who rose at 2 a.m. to ride buses from Asheville to Saturday’s march.
“I was happy to be part of all the different people coming together and proud to see them working together for the common goal of looking out for each other,” Bryson said.
Another bus rider, Donna Dupree, of Balsam, said being part of a community of concerned citizens was one of the best parts of the trip.
"Different organizations and diverse people coming together to fight the regressive laws passed by Pat McCrory and his cronies in 2013," she said. "To stand up for the rights of North Carolina's citizens to be heard and for all to be treated equally under the law. I am inspired to fight even harder, do more. There is so much that needs to be fixed, but together we can move forward.”
Rev. Stan Smith, a retired Methodist minister from Lake Junaluska, said he felt a moral imperative to be part of this movement.
“I went to the march because here is a non-partisan effort led by church leaders to do what the Bible says about doing justice, loving mercy (compassion) and walking humbly with our God,” Smith said.
Bryson, Smith and Vanderstar are all members of the Forward Together Haywood People’s Assembly, a group which has applied for a charter to become an authorized committee of the NAACP.
The next meeting of Forward Together Haywood is 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center, 450 Pigeon St., Waynesville. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.