Charlotte Moral Monday Focuses On Voting
The state's chapter of the NAACP has been leading weekly protests in Raleigh called Moral Monday.
It's a movement led by clergy members that's now on a state-wide tour and made its latest stop in Charlotte Monday night.
More than 2,000 protesters showed up for Moral Monday in Marshall Park Monday night.
They held signs in support of abortion rights and protest of education and health care cutbacks.
And some were there in support of legalization of marijuana and abolishing prisons. But if there was one central theme to Monday night's rally, it was the sweeping changes to voting law by Governor Pat McCrory that had the crowd riled up.
Kojo Nantambu, president of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP, led the rally.
The state chapter of the NAACP led weekly Moral Monday while the General Assembly was in session in Raleigh to protest budget cuts and controversial legislation pushed by Republican leaders.
Belmont Abbey College physics professor Rajive Tiwari attended the Charlotte protest.
"This whole legislative season has been like living in a surrealist world," Tiwari says. "Every morning I woke up I was expecting to see something more ridiculous than I saw yesterday."
With clergy members crowding the stage behind him, keynote speaker Reverend Dwayne Walker of Little Rock AME Zion Church spoke of the new voting law as a step backward.
Walker: "Forward together"
Crowd: Not one step back!
"This is an appropriate rallying cry because as we look across our country and observe what appears to be an attempt by the right-wing, conservative legislators and governor to deliberately turn back the clock on the progress that has been made by black people and brown people and women and other groups," Walker says.
Grady Lockhart, a native Charlottean, says he came out to protest the voting law.
"I'm very impressed with the diversity of the crowd that came out to support this," Lockhart says. "This ain't a black and white issue. It seems to be bigger than that. And it's not about Democrats and Republicans. It seems to be a lot of issues that concern the American public."
The new voting law not only requires a photo ID to vote by 2016, but also made some major changes like cutting early voting by one week, eliminating straight-ticket voting, pre-registration for teens and changing campaign spending rules.
Chief sponsor Senator Bob Rucho, a Republican legislator from Mecklenburg County, says he believes it enhances voting opportunities by possibly increasing the number of voting locations. He spoke Monday on WFAE's Charlotte Talks.
"It goes from 17 days to 10 days prior to the election and in that same ten days, if you had 2,000 hours in 2008, you'll have 2,000 hours in that same period," Rucho explains. "So you have more opportunities to vote. You also have the ability to increase the number of locations. We can add two or three or five locations, you're adding more voting machines in place, you'll reduce the lines."
Organizers say they plan to have protests in the state’s 13 congressional districts. There were also smaller rallies in Burnsville and the coastal town of Manteo Monday night.