The Rev. William Barber began his speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington much like the gathering's most famous speaker, Martin Luther King Jr., began his most famous speech.
The N.C. NAACP president and Moral Monday organizer gave a rundown of the state of affairs.
North Carolina has the nation's fifth-highest unemployment rate and is dead last in teacher pay. About 22 percent of children here live in poverty, half a million adults are without healthcare and the prison industrial complex is stronger than most city economies.
During the speech in Charlotte, which was part of celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the march, Barber called the latest General Assembly "the most regressive government we've seen since the Jim Crow era."
He then urged the crowd not to forget the dream that King spoke of that day 50 years ago. The dream of justice for all and care for the common good. The dream of compassion becoming more important than greed and right prevailing over wrong. He said believing in the dream is why we must honor those who stood for justice 50 years ago by challenging and confronting legislators in Raleigh.
The crowd responded with thunderous applause, cheers and chants.
The event at Marshall Park was part of rallies in 13 congressional districts in North Carolina, including one that drew hundreds in rural Lincoln County, to commemorate the march. Attendees received a newspaper outlining every socially unjust law created by the General Assembly this year, a report on each district's representative, and how they voted on different issues. Attendees were also asked to register five people to vote before the next election.
Barber reminded the crowd that in Moral Mondays, over 1,000 people participated in civil disobedience at a state house - a first in the South. Not even during the civil rights era did this occur, he said. The rally concluded with the song "Ain't no stopping us now."
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