The NAACP held a Moral Monday Town Hall Meeting on this past Monday at Greater True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in preparation for the Florida Moral Monday Mass Rally March 3rd in Tallahassee. The Moral Monday Rally in Tallahassee is an effort to expand the protests against voter restriction policies and the voter purge, the lack of support for the expansion of Medicaid and affordable health care, the lack of gun control, restrictions on ex-offender rights restoration, the consequences of the school to prison pipeline and other conservative laws of Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Republican led Legislature. Moral Mondays have spread into South Carolina, Georgia and now Florida. Confirmed NAACP speakers for the Florida Moral Monday Rally are Rosalind Brock NAACP National Board Chair, Lorraine Miller Interim President/CEO, Adora Obi Nwezi Florida NAACP State Conference President, and Rev. William Barber II North Carolina NAACP State Conference President.
Many are calling it a new movement for civil and voting rights. In a letter to Florida residents, the Florida NAACP State Conference President Adora Obi Nwese wrote, “Why join this movement? Our folks want to work. Our folks want to eat. Our folks want to have affordable health insurance for their family. Our folks want to vote. Our folks want equal protection under the law.” She went on to emphasize the importance of the Moral Monday Rally in Tallahassee by stating, “The Florida State Conference has assembled this gathering with like-minded organizations and activists who KNOW that voting is the key to fixing the issues that undermine democracy in our state. This is a step towards doing something–we’ve got hope in the vote…this is where our power lies.”
Monday evening’s event at Greater True Vine echoed the advocacy of the NAACP Florida State President. The town hall meeting was moderated by Pastor Gary Bryant of New Hope Baptist Church. Burnette King, the NAACP Representative coordinating Pensacola’s involvement in the Moral Monday Rally provided a video portraying images of recent attacks on civil and voting rights with the music “America the Beautiful” being played in the background by late great Ray Charles. The video set the tone that there was serious business that need to be shared and discussed.
The next presentation was the event’s occasion by the host, Pastor Isaac L. Williams, who brought a prepared warning to the audience. Rev. Williams utilized the spirit of Black History Month and told the story of how the 1876 presidential election was so close that the winner was decided by a compromise which allowed Republican Rutherford B. Hayes to be named President if he agreed to remove the Federal troops from the South ending Reconstruction. Rev. Williams reminded the audience that the party supporting the rights of former slaves was the Republican Party against the will of the southern Democrats. He then stated that following the removal of federal troops from the South, in 1883 the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. He warned that we must be careful not to allow history to repeat itself. In an interview with the Pensacola Voice, Rev. Williams stated that, “We must challenge our community leaders to know our history and during this time of need we must have our voices heard to protect our civil rights.” The advocacy for civil and voting rights continued with the following presentations:
- Voter Rights & Voter Roll Purging by Burnette King
- Rights Restoration for Returning Citizens by Jerry McIntosh, Coalition for Justice of NW Florida
- Affordable Health Care & Medicaid Expansion by Dr. John Veasley, NAACP President Pensacola Branch
- Education in Escambia County by Keyontay Humphries, ACLU Regional Organizer
The Moral Monday protests impacted the North Carolina political landscape in 2013, building a social justice multiracial, many issues movement centered on voting and civil rights such as the South hadn’t seen since the 1960s. Reverend William Barber II, President of the North Carolina NAACP and the leader of the Moral Monday movement, has been quoted as saying, “We have come to say to the extremists, who ignore the common good and have chosen the low road, your actions have worked in reverse. You may have thought you were going to discourage us, but instead you have encouraged us. The more you push us back, the more we will fight to go forward. The more you try to oppress us, the more you will inspire us.”
The NAACP is urging Pensacola, Escambia County, and Northwest Florida residents to become involved in the Moral Monday Mass Rally to support challenging state government laws which impact the rights of local community residents across the state. Ministers and community organization leaders are being encouraged to announce the “Moral Monday in Florida” Mass Rally to your congregation. For more information on the event and free bus transportation to Tallahassee contact Burnette King at (850) 291-0447.