The Return of Jim Crow in North Carolina

By Lauren McCauley

Rights Groups Call for Halt to 'Worst Since Jim Crow' Voting Law

Hundreds of people were turned away outside of a packed courtroom in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Monday where inside voting rights activists demanded a halt to what they said was the most restrictive voter suppression legislation since the Jim Crow era, local news reports.

The plea, brought forth by the North Carolina NAACP, is calling for temporary injunction of House Bill 589. The law—which was passed by the state legislature immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act last June—mandates that voters show government-issued identification; rolls back early voting; and eliminates same-day registration as well as a high-school civics class that encouraged 18-year-olds to register to vote, among other provisions.

"This law—passed by Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate Leader Phil Berger and their extremist counterparts and then signed by Gov. Pat McCrory—represents the most egregious attempt at voter suppression since Jim Crow," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the state chapter of the NAACP.

Speaking on MSNBC's The Reid Report on Monday, Barber explained that after the Supreme Court ruling—which eliminated federal government "preclearance" to changes made to voting laws in certain states, including North Carolina—the bill grew from 12 pages to 57 pages.

"Fifty-seven pages where they identified the voters they wanted to suppress and then conjured up these policies to go after those voters, ie young people, African Americans, women, Latino and the elderly," Barber said. According to the NC NAACP, up to one third of African Americans in the state do not have a valid form of photo identification and during the 2012 election, 70 percent took part in early voting.

"This is clearly about power. It's clearly about the electorate. It's clearly about the changing demographics and it's clearly unconstitutional." —Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the NC NAACP

"This is clearly about power," Barber continued. "It's clearly about the electorate. It's clearly about the changing demographics and it's clearly unconstitutional." The law is due to take effect in 2016.

Following the hearing, activists with the Forward Together Moral Movement—who organized the weekly Moral Monday demonstrations—held a rally outside the courthouse to promote their new Get-Out-The-Vote campaign. In what they say is an updated interpretation of the 1966 Mississippi Freedom Summer, the group is calling on people across North Carolina to head to the polls to combat the "regressive public policy agenda" put forth by the GOP-led General Assembly.

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Mirrored from Commondreams.org

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Related video:

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, from last fall:

5 Responses

  1. Juan, the third-from-last paragraph is nearly the same as the next-to-last paragraph. Don’t know where this came in.

  2. Here it is, just as I have feared for many years.

    The last time, blacks were disenfranchised en masse, but it involved many laws over several decades, pushing down the pool of eligible black voters even further in the early 20th Century.

    This time, they can use computers to surgically gerrymander minority votes to impotence.

    But the most important part of all this? The refusal of mainstream America to accept that right-wingers still hate blacks enough to strip them of all their rights. They will accept an endless procession of excuses and plausible denials, amplified by the corporate agenda to make America the most unequal country possible.

    For all our supposed racial enlightenment over the generations, we will end up right back where we were in 1900. What does this prove about the essential nature of our political and economic systems? Why do a handful of bigots always triumph? And why is theirs always the side of “property rights” and “limited government”? These things are all tied together.

  3. By the way, this is actually the 3rd time that black people have lost their voting rights in the South. In the early Virginia colony, African captives had to be brought in as indentured servants, meaning when their terms ran out they became colonial subjects like everyone else. Apparently some did have voting rights. But Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676, in which white and black servants joined the rebels, led to the complete re-engineering of Southern law and culture, and the conversion of blacks not only to slaves, but to people so despised by poor whites that alliances against the oligarchy became impossible. That is where America’s identity really began.

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