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Friday, March 29, 2013

A Good Friday note: Resurrection will "Save Our State" (plus two upcoming events in Raleigh)

Posted by on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 1:51 PM

First up, there's a strategy meeting set for 6 p.m. next Tuesday, April 2 at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh — 1801 Hillsborough St. If you are among those outraged by what's going on in the General Assembly these days, and especially with the new voter-suppression legislation — this will be the NAACP and allied social justice groups and individuals coming together to make some plans.

Then, the following Tuesday, April 9, is a day for mass lobbying at the General Assembly. The same people and groups will gather at 9 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 101 S. Wilmington St., before walking to the Legislative Building 30-45 minutes later.

***

Now for that Good Friday note.

I was at Duke yesterday for the "Save Our State" meeting hosted by Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina. I'll be touching on what was said there in some form next week in the Indy; for now, I'm recalling two things.

One, the Republican meme that everything in North Carolina was/is "broken" and must therefore be fixed by the GOP is wrong, but is a very smart effort by the other side to dismiss a half-century of progress in our state catalyzed by liberal and moderate Democratic policies.

More than 200 met at Duke to Save Our State
For that entire half-century, a period in which they were thoroughly discredited and dismissed as reactionaries, the Republican right-wing never gave up. They fought, persisted and made plans for the day when opportunity would shine and they'd have a chance to take over and return the state to its pre-1960s traditions of inequality, ignorance, and segregation. In 2010, their patience was rewarded. Able to win control of the General Assembly, they gerrymandered the Democrats right out of the building and in the 2012 elections won veto-proof control — with a Republican governor to boot.

So, things look pretty hopeless for the progressive side right now. But one message from "Save Our State" was, this is a long fight that is never going to be over, but it's one in which we need to engage believing that we must, can and will win.

The second key from "Save Our State" was offered by Dr. Willie Jennings, a Baptist minister and associate professor at Duke Divinity School. Jennings observed that the other side frames its reactionary messages in Biblical language and cadences that too many on the progressive side, because we don't read the Bible or go to church, don't recognize when we hear them.

Jennings urged progressives to understand how deeply rooted religious beliefs are in our state. Learn about religion, he urged. Learn to speak in terms that touch a spiritual chord with people of faith. Above all, learn to take people's faith, even if you don't share it, "with the utmost respect and seriousness."

***

This morning, the NAACP, Democracy NC and other groups gathered folks at Pullen Baptist for a press conference to denounce the voter-suppression legislation introduced in the General Assembly this week by Republican leaders. (If you're not familiar with it, my post yesterday can serve as a starting point.)

The Rev. William Barber, the state NAACP president, and other speakers denounced this legislation as corrupt, undemocratic and unconstitutional. It's all of that.

The Rev. William Barber and allies at Pullen Baptist today.
But Barber denounced it as well in moral terms, underlining for the press the fact that this is Good Friday and Easter is two days away.

Caesar, he said, was sure that he'd won the battle with the Christians when Jesus was crucified and buried. Things looked pretty hopeless for the Christian side that day. Two days later, their cause was victorious.

The voting rights won by Americans who bled in the '60s are once again being crucified, Barber said. But history shows — he went on with that great smile of his — "that the more you push people down, the more they rise up."

Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama showed that. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed swiftly after its champions were given a horrible beating.

Soo, too, the Christian story of Easter, Barber said. It shows, "if you push justice down, it gets up and resurrects itself!"

The death of the progressive movement in North Carolina is widely reported. Its resurrection, as it comes, will strike that spiritual chord.

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The progressive side is beaten in North Carolina. The progressive side will rise again. Glory be.

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