Unitarian Universalism is in my blood. I am here today because my parents met at the UU church in Birmingham, Alabama many years ago when they were seeking spiritual community in young adulthood. Despite growing up within UUism, I feel like my faith is very deliberate and was truly formed by my involvement in my home church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina throughout high school. One day my minister mentioned to me a program for youth involved in social justice in Boston. This would turn out to be the inaugural Activate Justice Training of the UU College of Social Justice. So, I went to Boston and was exposed to this faith organization on a national level for the first time while I solidified my commitment to social justice. Also, I met an intern they were hosting and I made a note in the back of my head to remember that as an option when I became a college student. Three years later, after my first year studying religion and political science at UNC Asheville, it seemed like the perfect fit, so I applied and was placed with our Standing on the Side of Love campaign in the UUA’s Washington DC office.
Thousands of people from across North Carolina and the country came to Winston-Salem on Monday, July 13th, to march for the full restoration of voting rights in the state that is home to what has been described as the worst voter suppression law in the country. Hundreds of those people were Unitarian Universalists from NC, eighteen other states, and Washington, DC.
Our UU planning team for the Mass Moral Voting Rights March extends our deepest thanks to all of you who showed up to support the movement in North Carolina! We feel enormous gratitude to those who took the time and took on the expense of travelling here. The UUs in Winston-Salem and across North Carolina who have been sustaining and building this movement felt so supported by your presence. In our debrief phone call yesterday, the lead organizer from the NAACP NC, Roz Pelles, called in to tell us that Rev. William Barber wanted us to know how much they appreciate the partnership with Unitarian Universalists and that they see that we have helped build the movement to be broad, inclusive and deeply moral. Roz also expressed appreciation for the UUs who have shown up at the Mass Moral Marches in Raleigh, committed civil disobedience at the state legislature, and are spreading the moral movement across the U.S.
Whether you were able to be in Winston-Salem or not, please join us for a "North Carolina Is Our Selma: Debrief of July 13 Rally and Next Steps" Voting Rights Webinar, next Wednesday, July 22nd at 8 p.m. ET.
On Monday, July 13th, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a federal judge will start the trial of our historical lawsuit, NC NAACP v. McCrory. We will put on our evidence to prove that the voter suppression tactics that were rammed through the North Carolina legislature in 2013 are race-based, have a disparate impact on voters of color, and were intentionally passed by Gov. Pat McCrory, then-Speaker Thom Tillis, and Senate leader Phil Berger to suppress the votes of Black, Latino, and poor voters.
We invite you to come to Winston-Salem, to attend this historic trial, and to be a part of a historic march on the first day of the trial. UUA President Rev. Peter Morales will be leading the march and speaking with us at the rally. Unitarian Universalist clergy from North Carolina have issued a call for you to join us. We will be honored by your presence. This is the most important lawsuit against voter disenfranchisement in the nation. Slate, The Nation,Think Progress, and Mother Jones called North Carolina's law the "worst in the country". Because it has a wide-reaching impact not only across our state but across the nation, North Carolina is this generation's Selma.
The disappointing 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder overturned key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was passed in the aftermath of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march. Following that 2013 ruling, voter suppression laws have proliferated across 22 states with more in the works. We must not stand by while the right to vote is taken away.
On July 13 a federal court in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will hear arguments in N.C. NAACP v. McCrory, a case challenging that state’s recently enacted voter suppression laws. Outside the courthouse on that day, the Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, leader of the North Carolina NAACP’s Forward Together Moral Monday Movement, will lead a march and rally. Rev. Barber has invited me to share this stage with him, and I accepted without hesitation. I feel strongly that we Unitarian Universalists are called to stand with Rev. Barber in support of the right to vote.
Fifty years after Selma the fight for equal voting rights is still going on, and this summer a major battle is heating up in North Carolina. On July 13 the Federal Court in Winston-Salem, NC, will begin to hear the lawsuit that the North Carolina NAACP brought against Governor Pat McCrory (NC-NAACP v McCrory) to challenge the voter suppression law in North Carolina. This law is the first and worst since the US Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The outcome will impact voting rights across the nation, and UUA President Rev. Peter Morales has accepted the invitation of NC-NAACP President Rev. William Barber to come to Winston-Salem for a Mass Moral Monday March for Voting Rights and Justice at 5pm on July 13.
We hope to build on the Moral Monday movement that has helped mobilize a broad coalition in our state, and also to begin to make real the faithful pledge that Unitarian Universalists made at the 50th anniversary events in Selma this year. We stand on the shoulders of giants like Jimmie Lee Jackson, Unitarian Universalists James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo, and countless justice warriors who have gone this way before us. We stand on the side of love, and on the side of justice.