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Rev. Dr. William Barber delivers the keynote address to the crowd after the
from page Al
the voting law passed in North Carolina in
2013 is the worst voter suppression law in
"Forward Together, Not One Step
Back" was the theme of the march and
rally, while various groups, such as
Democracy N.C. and Veterans for Peace,
were represented in the crowd. Religious
organizations also were present in this
rally. Many signs were held up with say
ings like "Voting Rights Now," "50 Years
After Selma," "Voting Rights Still Matter,"
"Voter Protection, Not Suppression," and
"Jim Crow Must Go."
Before they marched, different groups
came to the stage to pump up the crowd
that was already in anticipation. Prayers
were made from the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins
of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Rabbi
Leah Citrin of Temple Beth Or and Imam
Khalid Griggs of the Community Mosque
The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop
Caucus president, delivered a short mes
sage to the audience, especially to the
younger generation, about exercising their
right to vote.
At 5:15 p.m., the crowd officially
began to march. Protesters traveled from
Second Street, to Cherry Street, on Fourth
Street, to Main Street and back to Second
Street. Along the way. the marchers
stopped in the front of the federal court
house, where the Rev. Dr. William Barber
II and other plaintiffs in the case joined the
march that traveled back to Corpening
But before they left the federal build
ing, Barber and the plaintiffs held a press
conference outside the federal courthouse.
Barber said more importantly than any
thing, he wants to see equal voter opportu
nities for all.
"We never heard about voter fraud
until President Obama was elected,"
Barber said. "We never said change the
rules; we said abide by the rules. Even the
claim of fraud is racist. It all goes back to
one question: Why don't they want us to
During the march, protesters voiced
their opinions in a number of different
ways, some held signs while others sang
songs and chants that focused on voting
rights, racial violence and the fight for eco
Many of the protesters had to travel to
attend the march. A number of charter
buses were parked behind the Corpening
Plaza, many of which were filled with pro
testers of all ages and different back
One of those who traveled by bus was
Army veteran Bob Feldman. Feldman said
the two- hour trip from Asheville was well
worth it to make
sure his voice was
heard on this his
about two hours to
get here, but I had
to be here. I didn't
want to miss this,"
Feldman said. "If
we aren't heard, if
we don't speak out
now, nothing will
Feldman is a member of Veterans for
Peace Chapter 99, which is in Asheville.
During the march and the rally, Feldman
could be seen carrying a large American
flag. He said he brought the flag to show
that we are all affected by voter suppres
"We are all Americans and we are all
affected by this law," he said.
Earlier in the week, it was estimated
that about 2,000 people would attend the
march. Judging by the crowd and photos, it
is safe to say those estimatates were
wrong. As the march made its way through
downtown Winston-Salem, protesters
seemed to be multiplying.
Fay McCauley, a member of the N.C.
NAACP, stayed at the plaza, but gave her
reasons of why she attended the rally.
"I have always been taught from a
young child that my vote is supposed to
count, and that it's a right that my fore-par
?m -m -m ?
Photos by Tori Pittman Tor The Chronicle
Thousands of supporters from different non-profit and religious organizations
at the Corpening Plaza.
ents fought for and died for, and I can't
afford to give it up," McCauley said.
McCauley, who worked at the voter
polls and assisted those who turned 18 to
register to vote, strongly opposes the voter
ID law. She has also been deciding
whether to continue to work at the polls.
"I have had to turn people away,
against my will, because of the laws that
have changed. How are you going to deny
young people that are eligible to vote?"
Betty Dunn of Kansas, whose son
Donald Dunn helped organize the march
and rally, came down for support. She was
among those who marched with Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr., and was now witnessing
I "He [Dr. King]
said there will
always be a time
that we're going to
have to march,"
. said Dunn.
By 6 p.m., the
and more guest
,>|/vunwi u ^uiiiviv?
by the stage to speak to the rallying and
Penda Hair, Advancement Project co
director, and Plaintiff Armenta Eaton gave
a brief synopsis of the open statements
made at the federal court hearing earlier
"We had a great first day," said Hair in
reference to the court hearing. "This is a
pivotal moment in North Carolina and
United States history."
. Eaton brought her 94-year-old mother
Rosanell Eaton, one of the lead Plaintiffs,
who stood up before the audience as they
cheered for her.
Moises Serrano of the N.C. American
Friends Service Committee expressed that
not only African-Americans are feeling
voter suppression, but the Hispanic/Latino
community is, too.
"Together we must work to dismantle
the racist ideals that we inherited from our
colonizers," Serrano said.
A ? A A
J. David Cox, a North Carolina native
and president of the American Federation
of Government Employees, addressed the
audience about working hard to continue
to provide the people their Social Security
funding, jobs and government assistance
for those in need.
Rev. Dr. John Mendez, pastor of
Emanuel Baptist Church in Winston
Salem introduced Barber to deliver the
Barber gave his concerns about the
H.B. 589, the 2013 voter law, and talked
about how African-American leaders and
ancestors in the past have fought so hard
for voting rights and freedom.
? "Everything that our fore-parents have
fought for is under attack," Barber said.
He said the 2013 law, which was
passed without hesitation, was sinful.
"It's time to call it what it is. It's not
merely political conservatism, it's sin. It's
not merely right versus left, it's sin. And
our fore-parents knew what sin was. That's
why they went to church and marched, and
got beaten on Bloody Sunday, to fight the
After Barber spoke, the Rev. Dr. T.
Anthony Spearman of the N.C. NAACP
read a letter that came from David
Goodman, the brother of Andrew
Goodman, one of the volunteers involved
in the Freedom Summer project that was
murdered on June 21, 1964. Volunteers
James Chaney and Michael Schwemer
also were murdered.
"Thank you all for your patriotic action
to let all of America know, that Moral
Monday is here to stay as long as neces
sary," read the letter. "At 17 years old, I
became witness to the hatred. It changed
the course of my entire life, but the story of
Goodman, Chaney and Schwemer is not
my story. It's the story of we the people.
We the people can never be defeated."
Goodman was 13 years old when his
brother was murdered.
At the end of the rally, everyone joined
hands as they sang along to the Oscar-win
ning song "Glory", performed by
Common and John Legend based on the
soundtrack to the movie "Selma."
A rannoi't trx V-\l L- tUa loin
ine measure nas a disparate impact on voters 01
color and abridges the right to vote for people across
the state. This is exactly what the Voting Rights Act
was intended to prevent."
-Jamie Cole, public policy and legal coordinator of the N.C. NAACP
from page AI
affected by the changes in
Before the trial, the
N.C. NAACP held an event
in front of the federal
building to sum up its case.
Among the speakers show
ing their support was
Bishop Todd Fulton, leader
of the Ministers
Conference of Winston
Salem and Vicinity, who
said the case reminded him
of the biblical story of
David versus Goliath.
"We are going up
against a giant," he said.
Jamie Cole, public pol
icy and legal coordinator of
the N.C. NAACP, outlined
her organization's argu
ments against the law as
local activists and politi
cians flanked her.
"The law is a calculated
effort to manipulate voting
rights by targeting the
measures that African
American and Latino vot
ers use at significantly
higher rates than white vot
ers," she said. "The meas
ure has a disparate impact
on voters of color and
abridges the right to vote
for people across the state,
This is exactly what the
Voting Rights Act was
intended to prevent."
The case challenges
several aspects of the
omnibus voting law,
including the reduction of
early voting from 17 to 10
days, banning out-of
precinct voting, ending
same-day registration and
stopping 16- to 17-year
olds from pre-registering
so they would automatical
ly be registered to vote
when they turn 18.
The case also chal
lenges the voter ID require
ment that will go into effect
in 2016, but those argu
ments will be heard at a
later time because the state
made changes to the law
last month. Under the
changes, voters who don't
have a valid form of gov
ernment-issued photo ID
and have a "reasonable
impediment" to acquiring
one, can use their voter
registration card or the last
four digits of their social
security number and date
of birth date instead. The
are lack of transportation,
disability or illness, lack of
birth certificate or the doc
uments to obtain an ID,
work schedule, family
responsibilities, lost or
stolen photo ID, they
haven't an ID yet that they
applied for, and "other rea
which the voter will need
to write a description of.
The Election Reform
Act, or House Bill 589,
was signed into law in
August 2013. It was one of
many voting laws passed in
various states shortly after
the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled against the preclear
ance requirement of the
Voting Rights Act, which
forced certain states and
counties with a history of
voter discrimination to get
U.S. Justice Department
approval when changing
election laws. The majority
on the High Court said the
criteria for which states got
scrutiny was dated and
charged Congress with
coming up with a new for
mula, which wasn't done.
While no longer subject
to preclearance, voting law
changes could be chal
lenged as discriminatory in
court under Section 2 of
the Voting Rights Act.
That's exactly what hap
pened with North
Carolina's Election Reform
law. The day it was signed,
the N.C. NAACP and the
League of Women Voters
both filed suit in the state's
Middle District against the
law. A month later, the U.S.
Justice Department also
filed suit. The three law
suits, all making similar
arguments, were consoli
dated into one for the pur
pose of trial, with N.C.
NAACP v. McCrory as the
The NAACP case's
main plaintiff is Rosanell
Eaton, a 92 year-old black
woman who has lived in
Louisburg, N.C., her whole
life. She was one of the
registered to vote in
Franklin County in the
&-r !v .
1940s. A longtime NAACP
member, the lawsuit says
that her ability to vote and
to help others to vote,
which she still does, would
be hindered by longer lines
and shorter early voting
periods. Also the name on
her birth certificate and
voter registration card
doesn't match her driver's
license, a problem it says
would be a burden on her
to fix and would've pre
vented her from voting
before the law was
changed last month.
The case has been
given to U.S. District
Judge Thomas Schroeder.
Last July, he ruled against a
J ? ? -
from going into effect for
the November 2014 elec
tion. A Fourth U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals judge
was more sympathetic,
reversing the decision in
October, but the U.S.
Supreme Court overturned
it a week later, allowing the
law to go into effect for last
The trial is expected to
last several weeks and may
be appealed to the U.S.
When reached for com
ment, Gov. Pat McCrory's
press office had no state
ment or comment on the
trial. The N.C. Attorney
General's office responded
that, though lawyers with
the office have an obliga
tion to defend state laws
challenged in court,
Attorney General Roy
Cooper is personally
opposed to the law and
urged McCrory to veto it in
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