NAACP tour against GOP makes a stop in Goldsboro
By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 31, 2013 1:46 PM
Albert Barron Sr., a Greene County pastor, reads over the state NAACP's legislative report card Thursday night prior to the start of the Forward Together Movement Local Organizing Tour meeting.
Sounding at times like an old-fashioned tent revival, and at others like a civil rights gathering, the Forward Together Movement Local Organizing Tour stopped in Goldsboro Thursday to rally people to stand up to what organizers called "mean-spirited" state legislation.
The predominantly black and mostly older crowd of nearly 100 that gathered at Rebuilding Broken Places was told that it is time to stand up to "the bullies in the state Legislature." They also were encouraged to take the meeting's message back to their churches and civic groups.
They were invited as well to participate in the June 3 Moral Monday protest at the state Legislative Building at 5 p.m.
The meeting was sponsored by the Goldsboro/Wayne, Sampson and Lenoir County branches of the NAACP.
Launched Wednesday in Raleigh, the 25-stop tour will cross the state over the next two weeks, spreading the word about what organizers say is a General Assembly that has been taken over by "tea party-backed extremist forces."
Organizers said the tour builds on four weeks of Moral Monday demonstrations and the arrests of 158 North Carolinians, ages 18-92, from all walks of life.
The group also has released a mid-session report card grading key votes made by each legislator of both parties that will have "detrimental consequences for poor and marginalized people in the state."
The county's three Republican legislators, Reps. John Bell of Goldsboro and Jimmy Dixon of Calypso and Sen. Louis Pate of Mount Olive, all received grades of zero for their support of what meeting organizers called "bad bills."
Democratic Rep. Larry Bell of Clinton received a 100 for his work against the bills while Democratic Sen. Don Davis of Snow Hill had a 90. Davis lost points for support of a bill that would allow lenders to charge higher interest rates.
Overall, both Republican-controlled chambers received failing grades.
The Rev. Curtis Gatewood of Oxford, Historical Thousands on Jones Street coalition coordinator for the state chapter of the NAACP, asked those at the meeting, especially local church and civic leaders, to sign up to help in the fight.
Gatewood suggested arranging special meetings in local churches and organizations to discuss what happened at Thursday's gathering.
It is message that must be repeated, he said.
"We want you to leave here thinking about it," Gatewood said. "Those 500,000 who were denied Medicaid, we want to leave you thinking about it. The 30,000 at-risk children who are going to be denied More at Four, Smart Start and those early childhood programs that they need to have sufficient development to become productive citizens. Not to mention there are already 20,000 on the waiting list as they deteriorate developmentally."
Gatewood said he also wanted those at the meeting to think about the 165,000 people who were denied unemployment benefits.
"Do you remember the time that you went to the restaurant and you couldn't go in the front door?" said Herb Joyner, a LaGrange native and NAACP attorney. "But you had to go to the little side window and order takeout long before they had takeout. I know you remember those days.
"You want to talk about where this (General Assembly) is going, it is going back there. Back there. Back there. So this isn't a journey that you are unfamiliar with. It is a journey that you have already taken. The difference is you have moved up, and they are doing everything in their power to move you back."
However, it is not an issue of black and white, he said. Many others, including poorer white people and Hispanics, are on the same journey, he said.
"We need people to stand up for their rights, and if you don't do it, no one is going to do it for you," Joyner said.