Workers and clergy on September 12 joined together across the US to tell state officials and politicians that promoting civil rights, human rights, and worker rights is a moral imperative.
The declaration echos a sermon that Dr. Martin Luther King gave in 1967 in which he called for a “radical revolution of values.”
“Following moral traditions rooted in our faith and the Constitution, we are called to stand up for justice and tell the truth,” reads the declaration. “We challenge the position that the preeminent moral issues today are about prayer in public schools, abortion, and homosexuality. Instead, we declare the deepest public concerns of our faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants, and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.”
It is a moral imperative says the declaration to support pro-labor, anti-racist policies that lead to economic democracy and policies that protect voting rights for all, women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, equality in education, health care for all, fairness in the criminal justice system, and environmental protection.
The day of action was dedicated to Myrna De Los Santos, a former McDonald’s worker who died at the age of 49 because she couldn’t afford medical treatment for her diabetes on the $8 an hour that McDonald’s paid her.
In Austin, Texas, about 100 people took part in a march to the state Capitol where speakers talked about the need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
One of the speakers was Freda Lacy a fast-food employee. “It’s very hard, especially when you are trying to raise a family,” said Lacy explaining the difficulties of getting by on a near minimum wage salary. ”
In Texas the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is hampered by a state law that prohibits cities and other local governments from passing minimum wage ordinances.
“Fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage is not an issue of left or right,” said City Council Member Greg Casar . “It’s an issue of right and wrong. It’s absolutely wrong that Texas law prohibits our local elected officials here in Austin from raising the minimum wage.”
In Carson City, Nevada supporters of Higher Moral Ground Declaration delivered a copy of the declaration signed by more than 10,000 people to Gov. Brian Sandoval.
“We’re uplifting issues from raising the minimum wage, expanding worker rights, immigrant and racial justice, and making sure that this coming election that they have a moral compass as we’re all going to the voting booth this coming November,” said AJ Buhay, organizer for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, about the purpose of the Carson City day of action.
The day of action on Monday, September 12 was reminiscent of the Moral Mondays movement that began in North Carolina in 2013 when lawmakers passed laws that curtailed voting rights, cut people off Medicaid, disrespected public school teachers, and other laws that ushered in a period of reaction, racism, and mean-spiritedness in the state.
Back then, thousands of people flocked to Raleigh, the state’s capital to protest these policies, and for much of May and June, hundreds of people committed acts of civil disobedience to protest the state’s new regressive policies.
“We are building a movement, not just a moment,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday movement in the early days of the movement. “As our coalition and supporters grow, we will continue to shine a spotlight on injustice and go back home to our respective communities and organize against the regressive agenda of North Carolina’s legislative leadership.”
The September 12 day of action was the most recent action taken to build and expand the movement that Rev. Barber helped found in 2013.
At the day of action in Raleigh, Rev. Barber addressed a crowd of hundreds and urged them to demonstrate their radical revolutionary morality by voting in the November elections.
“We are making a declaration and calling on all people of conscience who believe in these deep moral values to exercise their right to vote on the polls in November and beyond and call others to vote in massive waves,” said Barber to the crowd.
“It’s time for people of conscience to come out of the sanctuary into the public square, into the ballot box [in] November, and beyond,” he added.