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The Voice of the Black Community

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Progressives to rally at capital
HKonJ to focus on economics, voting rights
 
Published Friday, February 1, 2013 11:37 am
by Herbert L. White

Progressive activists will gather in Raleigh next week to press N.C. lawmakers for political, economic, and education equality.


The Historic Thousands on Jones Street, or HKonJ, rally will be held Feb. 9 at the state capital. On Friday, leaders from Charlotte-area clerical, civil and voting rights groups held a press conference at Little Rock AME Zion Church to talk about the seventh annual march.


“We are going to Raleigh to express our serious concerns and will to fight against these continued extreme and draconian right wing policies,” said the Rev. Kojo Nantambu, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP. “This gathering of tens of thousands of people is a fight against increasing poverty and economic injustice resulting in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.”


Marchers will lobby the Republican-dominated legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory to commit to economic sustainability, education improvement, expanding health care for the underserved, addressing judicial inequities and defend voter access.


“I want this effort to draw attention to specifically what the problems are,” said the Rev. Peter Wherry, pastor at Mayfield Memorial Baptist Church and moderator of the United Missionary Baptist Association. “Secondly, I’m anticipating follow-up action to address the concerns we’ve raised.”


Republican lawmakers have already introduced bills that have drawn the ire of progressives. A voter ID requirement is all but certain to pass, and a bill that would cut the amount of unemployment benefits to $350 a week and their duration from 26 weeks to 12 has been introduced. Another bill would leave the creation of North Carolina’s health care exchange to the federal government.


“Obamacare was forced on us against our will by the federal government, and they should shoulder the burden of implementing it,” N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) said in a statement.


Progressives contend conservative-inspired legislation threatens North Carolina’s economic and social wellbeing, Nantambu said. Next week’s march is a step in raising awareness.


“We need ever person in our community who is committed to ending poverty, preserving and expanding voting rights, providing quality healthcare for all, ending inequalities in the criminal justice system and ensuring education equality to travel to Raleigh for the People’s Assembly,” Nantambu said. “We need to say to the North Carolina General Assembly and all of our elected officials we refuse to go backwards.”


Although the GOP controls the seat of political power, progressives are looking to mobilize the forces needed to influence the debate and, ultimately, votes.


“An uphill battle, sure, but to stop fighting would be suicide,” Wherry said.

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