A Working America Project: Pursuing Just Policies in North Carolina

A movement was reignited in Raleigh on February 8th.

The Moral March, better known as the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), was held in support of fair voting standards and economically just policies in North Carolina.

That day, the streets surrounding Shaw University were choked with people as far as the eye could see.

We were joined by brothers and sisters from across the country, and we took to the streets to deliver a simple message to the state capitol: we’re not going to stand for regressive policies that hurt our families and communities.

Instead of tax cuts for the wealthiest few in North Carolina, we need to reinvest in our children’s educations, our colleges and universities, and our jobless. Instead of turning back time and making it harder for people to vote, we need to encourage participation in our democracy.

Supporters came out with signs in favor of immigration reform, women’s rights, labor, civil rights, education, environmentalism, faith, love, and basic human dignity.

This wasn’t a “fringe” group, by any means. We represented all stripes of North Carolinians.  A Working America member told me this was the most exciting thing he’s ever seen and that he knows we’ve made it, because PTA groups from around the state were out in full force.

We’re fighting back

A policy that fueled the closely related Moral Monday movement last year was the passage of one of the most flagrantly undemocratic voting bills in the country. Among other things, the measure included cuts to early voting, eliminated same-day registration, photo ID requirements in 2016, and relaxed limits on campaign contributions.

These changes have the sole goal of making it harder for working people, poor people, minorities, students and seniors to elect people that represent their best interests.

 “All these changes are just voter suppression. I think it’s unfair to keep people from their constitutional rights. We can fight back and protect the right of each American,” said Florence Price-Harrell, an activist from Greensboro. And fight back we will!

 In addition to participating in the Moral Monday movement, our members are hard at work in our own communities. In January, Working America activists set a goal of educating 364,250 North Carolinians in the Triad about the voter suppression laws.

We’re reaching out to community groups, tabling at events, talking to friends and family, canvassing neighborhoods, and writing letters to the editor in hopes of ensuring these laws don’t have their intended impact: weakening the voice of the working class come election time.

With the Moral March in Raleigh on February 8th, we assembled again to make sure our voices were heard loud and clear. We’re back and bigger than ever. Forward together, not one step back!

To get involved in our team’s voter education efforts, contact Katie at 336-299-0635 or [email protected]

Photo courtesy of alexmh17 on Flickr.

Why Immigration Reform Matters to North Carolina

Katie Gregg reports from North Carolina.

Amid a flurry of last minute activity in the North Carolina General Assembly, including a truly awful voter-suppression bill, our members are thinking ahead to the August recess. We’re looking forward to the return of the folks who represent us in the U.S. House of Representatives, so we can tell them, face-to-face, that now is the time to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Christin, a Working America member from Greensboro, NC, is all too familiar with the urgency of immigration reform. Her parents were immigrants to the US Virgin Islands from St. Lucia decades ago. She and her five siblings were in their teens by the time their parents had finally completed the United States’ lengthy immigration process—one that had begun more than two decades earlier. “The process to get legal status in the US or become an American citizen should not take decades. We need to allow those who are here to get their documents sooner, so that they can start paying taxes and contributing towards building a better economy,” said Christin.

By most estimates, North Carolina has roughly 300,000 undocumented workers. Large corporations take advantage of the status of these workers and pay them under the table, often in very poor conditions and for desperately low pay. As a result, they have little incentive to hire more workers or pay much above minimum wage. Christin has friends who have applied for work only to be told they would be hired at $7.25 per hour. She and so many others know that’s not nearly enough on which to raise a family. Clearly the only winners here are these corporations, which continue to make record profits and hold record power while we suffer the effects of record unemployment.

Christin says her parents came to the US because they wanted to make sure their kids had better opportunities in life than they themselves had. Passing comprehensive immigration reform in Congress is one thing we can do to make sure all workers are able to provide that same opportunity for their children, and we know the only way this will work is if we stand together and let our elected officials know with a unified voice, “The time is now.”

Lobby meetings, petitions, phone calls, and letters are just some of the ways you can get involved with pressuring our politicians to support a pathway to citizenship. If you’re in North Carolina, email me at [email protected] to find out how you can help.

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