FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2014
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II opened the NC NAACP's annual winter conference on Jan. 25 by declaring that its members were prepared to oppose any attempt by government officials to deny an equal voice and fair representation to the people of North Carolina - whether that involves tens of thousands of feet marching in protest through Raleigh on Feb. 8 or legal challenges in the courts.
"We are continuously witnessing last-ditch efforts by those who are in power to block the will of the people," Dr. Barber said. "The North Carolina NAACP, the people of North Carolina, say today that we will never stand by as justice is delayed. Because justice delayed is justice denied."
In the weeks ahead, the NC NAACP will push for expedient and meaningful action to fill the open U.S. district court judgeship in Eastern North Carolina, to move forward the special election to select a new representative for the 12th Congressional district, and to stop the state from delaying the NC NAACP's legal challenge to the voter suppression law passed last summer. On Jan. 24, the state conference’s Executive Committee overwhelmingly voted to prioritize these issues.
On Jan. 25, at a press conference held at the Abundant Life Church of God in Christ & Life Center in Raleigh, NC, Dr. Barber publicly announced five critical initiatives aimed at combating the denial of justice in North Carolina:
1. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has continuously denied attempts to hold a vote on the candidacy of judicial nominee Ms. Jennifer May-Parker for the open U.S. District Court seat in Eastern North Carolina.
President Barack Obama nominated Ms. May-Parker, a well-respected U.S. attorney and an African American, in June for the longest-running judicial opening; the seat has now been vacant for seven years. If approved by Congress, Ms. May-Parker would be the first African American to hold the position in state history.
"The federal court in the eastern district looks like the Civil Rights Movement never happened," Dr. Barber said. "The courts are needed more and more as legislators push continually to violate our constitutional rights. Sen. Burr...stop denying the people of eastern North Carolina their right to have [Ms. May-Parker's candidacy] voted on and their right to integrate the courts, something that should have been done 200 years ago."
The NC NAACP is not demanding that Sen. Burr vote for Ms. May-Parker, merely that he stop his silent veto and allow her candidacy to move forward for a full Congressional vote.
2. The 12th congressional district seat is also vacant and will have remained vacant for over 300 days if Gov. Pat McCrory is able to delay the special election until Nov. 4, 2014.
The average length of time that congressional seats go unfilled nationwide is 127 days. If Gov. McCrory gets his way, residents of the 12th congressional district will not have a voice in the U.S. Congress for more than 300 days. That is nearly a year without democratic representation for 700,000 North Carolinians, for Democrats and Republicans and independents alike.
"We are in the middle of some of the most critical [pieces of legislation like] the farm bill and the Voting Rights Act, and the 12th district will not have a representative at the debate," Dr. Barber said. "This is a travesty of justice."
Last night, the Executive Committee voted to instruct the NC NAACP attorneys to begin drawing together a legal challenge if Gov. McCrory does not change his position.
3. And statewide, the NC NAACP is pushing forward with its challenge to the voter suppression bill passed by the Far-Right extremists in the General Assembly in 2013—a law that has been described as the worst in the nation and stands as the most significant rollback of voter protections since Jim Crow.
The state continues to delay the court proceedings by denying the release of crucial evidence to NC NAACP lawyers during the discovery proceedings, but Dr. Barber stressed that the organization's resolve would not be shaken. Yesterday, the NC NAACP's lawyers filed a motion to compel the state to provide documents, many of which are readily available, from the General Assembly's consideration of the voter suppression law.
According to the state’s lawyers, they can't produce anything before the law was passed, anything from the debates on the passage of the law, or anything after the bill was signed.
"We say to the Governor, the people deserve to see why the legislature made this decision to roll back voting rights in our state-many rights that our citizens have already used," Dr. Barber said. "What was done in the darkness will be brought to light."
4. On Feb. 3, the Forward Together Movement will host the Moral Mondays' Costs and Loss Policy Briefing where scholars, economists, business people and policy experts will explain how the laws and regulations pushed by Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly leadership have cost the average North Carolinian economically, socially, politically, physically.
The briefing will be held at 3 pm at the Martin St. Baptist Church, located at 1001 E Martin St. in Raleigh, NC.
5. In preparation for Historic Thousands on J Street march, churches, synagogues, and mosques around the state will be hosting their own Moral March services on Sunday, Feb. 2 to rally their congregations and their communities.
“We know justice must be fought for on many fronts, in the court room, at the ballot box, and also in the streets,” Dr. Barber said. “The Moral March on Raleigh is only two weeks away and we will mobilize like never before!”
Fifty of these services will be open to members of the media. More information about the location and timing of these Moral March services will be forthcoming.
The Moral March on Raleigh will bring thousands of people of conscience together to stand against the constitutionally unsound, morally reprehensible, and economically insane policies of the Gov. McCrory, Speaker Tillis, Senate Leader Berger, Budget Director Art Pope and other extremists in the NC General Assembly.
The state conference has also released promotional videos for the Moral March that emphasize why North Carolinians should bear witness with their feet in Raleigh. The videos can be accessed online at http://bit.ly/1aVNIfd and http://bit.ly/1aVNzZq.