A thousand delegates from grassroots community organizations from across the state met at Union Baptist Church on Saturday for the NC United Power (NCUP) Statewide Delegates Assembly.
NCUP, an interfaith network of organizations, includes Winston-Salem’s CHANGE (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment) and the veterans support group HARRY. Other attendees included members of Charlotte’s HELP (Helping Empower Local People); Lexington’s HOPE (Helping Organize People Effectively); Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods)’ the Orange County Justice United; the N.C, Latino Coalition and the N.C. Congress of Latino Organizations.
NCUP holds the Assembly biennially to outline its agenda. The foreclosure crisis, veterans’ issues and immigration are among the top issues this time around. Delegates also heard from several candidates running for office, including Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who is running for governor.
After the Assembly, the delegates took to the streets, going door-to-door to encourage those in the lowest turnout precincts to vote. Union Baptist Pastor Rev. Sir Walter Mack Jr. told them it was a welcome effort.
“As you go out getting people excited about voting, just remember you’re in a great community, and a community that is ready to vote,” said Mack.
The diverse organizations also took time to tout their past successes, which members say includes everything from standing against housing discrimination to helping small businesses get capital.
“We have come together.” said HELP’s Rev. Donnie Garris, pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte. “We have produced impressive results in training hundreds of leaders to take action on community, city, county and statewide issues.”
Now NCUP wants to make a positive impact on these newest issues. CHANGE’s Stephen Boyd and HELP’s Terrance Hunter said a review of 4,000 documents related to foreclosures found forged and questionable signatures and foreclosures that went through without proper documentation.
“The sheer volume of foreclosures means that it is very difficult for the legal process to keep up, thus meaning some were incomplete and some of the foreclosures were illegal,” said Hunter.
Hunter outlined NCUP’s foreclosure plans, which include working with banks to reinvest in communities affected by foreclosures and pushing legislation that would require mortgage sales to be recorded by the register of deeds just as property sales are.
HARRY Member Everett Martin, a formally homeless Vietnam veteran, talked about an initiative to create a voluntary tax check off to allow state residents to donate to veterans groups. He said it is sorely needed.
“Many of us continue to face unemployment, homelessness and critical health problems at increasingly higher rates,” said Martin.
Jose Luis Celaya, a member of N.C. Latino Coalition group Enlace 24 de Marzo, covered immigration. In June, the Obama administration announced that undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children who meet certain criteria, so called Dreamers, wouldn’t be deported. NCUP will lobby to make sure this Deferred Action Program continues and for those eligible for driver’s licenses and in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.
For Celaya, it’s a personal issue. He came to the United States when he was only 11 years-old and is
“The simplest things are holding me back: simple things like not being able to obtain a driver’s license, not
being able to work and most definitely not being able to go to college,” said Celaya.
Other candidates who addressed the Assembly included Cristina Vazquez, who is running in N.C. House District 79, and Bobby Stanley, who is seeking the N.C. Senate District 26. N.C. House District 80 Candidate Lorretta Martin, N.C. Senate District 32 Candidate Earline Parmon and U.S. House Fifth District Candidate Elisabeth Montsinger sent surrogates, as did the presidential campaign of Barack Obama and the gubernatorial campaign of Pat McCrory.
All campaigns agreed with NCUP’s request to meet with the group after the election, except for those of President Obama and McCrory. The president’s surrogate said that he would relay the request to the White House; McCrory’s rep said that the former Charlotte mayor hasn’t made plans past election day, but assured the Assembly that he likely would be glad to meet with them.