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Activists in 6 states plan to spread NC protests
Johnson Francys WEB
The Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson

RALEIGH, N.C. — NAACP leaders from a half-dozen states pledged Tuesday to bring protests against conservative public policy to each of their state capitols during a week of demonstrations this month.

Organizers of regular protests at the North Carolina Legislature were joined on a conference call by counterparts in other states to announce the week of demonstrations starting Friday and ending the following Thursday, the 51st anniversary of the March on Washington led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Demonstrations in Raleigh will focus on a different theme each day, ranging from education to a voting rights rally, said the Rev. William Barber, the president of North Carolina's NAACP.

NAACP leaders from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Wisconsin said they were planning marches, teach-ins and rallies in each of their states during the seven days. Barber said events were also planned in Mississippi, and the lineup of events will vary by state.

Barber cited inadequate school funding and refusals to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law among examples of harmful policies enacted by conservative legislators.

"All of these attacks are emerging out of statehouses, governors and state elected officials — and that is where people must challenge them," Barber said.

Barber and others say the legislative process has been hijacked by extremists.

"This is not about right or left; this is about extremism," said the Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson, a Statesboro lawyer and the president of the Georgia NAACP, which is holding a "Moral March" on Saturday among other events.

The Alabama NAACP plans a rally each day. Saturday's will focus on a recently enacted program giving tax credits for parents who send their children to private school. A rally next Thursday concerns criminal justice "and how atrocious it is," said Bernard Simelton, the president of the Alabama NAACP.

"It's almost like their rights are terminated even before they are given due process," he said.

NAACP spokeswoman Sarah Bufkin says she expects several other states that weren't represented on the call to participate.

The demonstrations were spawned by the North Carolina movement that organizers call "Moral Mondays." The demonstrations started during the 2013 legislative session as Republican majorities that control North Carolina's House and Senate passed a number of laws that the NAACP and its partner organizations opposed.

About 900 people were arrested at protests during North Carolina's 2013 session and another 100 during this year's.

Similar rallies have been held in other states, including Georgia, where organizers say more than 80 people were arrested at "Moral Monday" protests during the 2014 session.

Barber said the participation in other states "represents a tremendous step forward, as you will hear today, of solidarity."


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