This morning the NAACP called a press conference in front of the state Capitol in Raleigh, NC, to announce the first step in a boycott to bring economic pressure to bear on the state.
As its first action, the NAACP has cancelled plans to hold its national annual conference in North Carolina, thus denying the state a significant amount of revenue in hotel room occupancy, restaurants, transportation, and other things associated with an enormous event such as this. Furthermore, additional economic boycott actions will be implemented by the NAACP if the North Carolina state government does not reverse its regressive course.
This economic boycott is in response to anti-democratic actions of the regressive state General Assembly (gerrymandered districts and minority voter suppression for starters). Also being protested is the state’s HB2 law, which is often simply described as the “bathroom law,” as it mandates use of public restrooms only according to the sex on the user’s birth certificate (thus discriminating against transgenders). However, the bathroom use issue is a smoke screen. The law also introduced sweeping discrimination in the workplace and removed the power of municipalities to expand civil rights within their borders. The brouhaha that rose about bathroom use has been bad enough, but even worse – it has obscured the more dire discriminatory elements of the law, which was introduced, voted upon, and signed into law in one business day, too quick for public comment or for the press to bring the bigger issues of the legislation to light before it was enacted.
Since HB2 became law, North Carolina has lost millions of dollars, although the exact amount is difficult to calculate. The NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference no longer hold their tournaments in the Tarheel state. The NBA has boycotted as well, and entertainers such as Bruce Springsteen have removed North Carolina venues from their tours. Still, regressive lawmakers like N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger have refused to recognize the need to repeal.
Enter the NAACP. The North Carolina chapter is under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who has worked for well over a decade to bring social justice to the state through a fusion movement. This Moral Movement is based on the core belief that more unites individuals who are on the outside of power than divides them. He has done what few have been able to accomplish: build bridges between the NAACP, worker groups, LGBT supporters, and other social justice advocates in one massive cry for change. This reached a peak on February 11, 2017, when over 80,000 peaceful protesters marched in Raleigh to the State Capitol in a demonstration demanding civil rights and human rights be honored on both a state and a national level.
Today’s press conference, held by Rev. Barber and NAACP national executive director Cornell William Brooks, was a followup to that event.
A national NAACP boycott is serious business. How it plays in North Carolina remains to be seen, but it will play.
If economic action by the NAACP and its allies is able to reverse the sad descent of North Carolina from mildly progressive to anti-democratic, deeply regressive, whatever price we pay will have been worth it.
#forwardtogether #naacpboycott #hb2 #votersuppression