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N.C. NAACP begins mobilizing for action in Winston-Salem

N.C. NAACP begins mobilizing for action in Winston-Salem
May 28
00:00 2015

In photo above: Bishop Todd Fulton addresses the crowd at St. Philips Moravian Church on May 21. (Photo by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle)

St. Philips hosts program as it marks the anniversary of end-of-slavery announcement

The occasion of the 150th anniversary of the day the Emancipation Proclamation was read in the forerunner of St. Philips Moravian Church in Old Salem was used to rally people to support the N.C. NAACP-led moral justice movement, which is scheduled to be in force in Winston-Salem on July 13.

The movement will hold educational workshops and a rally as the N.C. NAACP voting rights lawsuit against North Carolina – N.C. NAACP v. McCrory – is being heard in federal court in Winston-Salem.

St. Philips celebrated the anniversary of the announcement of freedom for slaves with a program called “Ever Forward to Freedom.” Thursday, May 21, was the 150th anniversary to the day when the Emancipation Proclamation was read to the local African-American communities from the pulpit of St. Philips, said the Rev. Russ May, pastor of St. Philips.

The organizers of the program contend that African-Americans and others are not yet free because of the laws that attack equal rights, such as regressive voting rights laws and laws against equal pay for women, a living wage and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The program featured speakers from the Winston-Salem area as well as the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, HKonJ People’s Assembly Coalition coordinator for the N.C. NAACP.

Gatewood assists the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the N.C. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, based in Durham. Barber initially organized HKonJ, which held its first rally in 2007.

HKonJ is an affiliate of the Moral Monday movement. It was formed to protest actions by the N.C. General Assembly that affected civil rights and social justice and push reforming legislation.

According to its website, HKonJ is made up of members from the more than 125 North Carolina State Conference NAACP branches, youth councils, high school and college chapters from the four corners of the state and members and friends of over 160 other social justice organizations.

Gatewood told the audience at St. Philips on May 21: “We’re an inclusive movement because we believe every human being deserves justice.” He said the moral movement is a coalition of various races and interests who want justice.
“It’s time for a moral movement,” he said.

Gatewood used references from the Bible and stressed that the moral movement is rooted in the morality of Jesus Christ.
“If they can win off lies, we certainly ought to be able to win with truth,” he said. “If they can win on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of God, then why can’t we win with God?”

N.C. NAACP v. McCrory was filed after North Carolina passed a law in 2013 that the moral movement says is designed to disenfranchise African-American and other anti-racism voters.

The law covers several areas called repressive to voting rights, including: It requires voters to show government-issued ID cards, shortens early voting by a week; ends same-day registration; increases the number of poll observers who can challenge a voter’s eligibility; and eliminates preregistration for high school students. The law also ends the practice of voting for every candidate of a single party with a simple stroke, called straight-ticket voting.

May told the audience on May 21 that he had hesitations about “some of the movements going around today,” but a friend told May that he trusted Barber. He said he is not following a movement per se. “Get on board with this. Follow me to freedom, “ May said. “But don’t follow me because I know what I’m doing. There’re people I trust.” He said he trusts several individuals in the movement, including Barber, and he’s following them.

“I trust these individuals, and that’s who I’m following as I follow Christ,” May said.

May called for a “people’s campaign” in Winston-Salem next year, in which people can tell their stories regarding fighting injustice.

Bishop Todd Fulton, president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, told the audience he grew up in Happy Hill Gardens, a community across the street from the St. Philips Heritage Center. He mentioned a slave who was affiliated with St. Philips, who, after he was freed, was one of the first former slaves to buy property in Happy Hills. Fulton said he moved from slavery to self-sufficiency.

“Moral Monday is a necessary moment. This emancipation day is a necessary moment,” Fulton said, “but I want to put in your heart an even greater necessary moment. Right here in Forsyth County, in Winston-Salem, we are at the top of the list of food insecurity” meaning “kids are going to bed hungry at night.”

Fulton says this is a great day to focus on not only what is happening outside Winston-Salem, but also in the city.
“We cannot sign up to the betrayal of silence” when Winston-Salem has kids are going to bed hungry, he said.

Fulton later said that the ministers’ conference is going to partner with the moral movement heading into July 13.

The Rev. Terrance Harris, who works with youth through the L.I.T. City initiative, said that his organization also will partner with the movement. He works with youth in marginalized communities of Winston-Salem, primarily through character education, mentoring, sports outreach and artistic expression.

“We want kids to flourish,” Harris said. “Any organization that has that goal in mind, we want to partner [with them] for the common good.”

See related article on voting rights.

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Donna Rogers

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