Raleigh protesters urge ‘high-ground’ approach

RALEIGH — Activists in more than half the states in the nation marched and rallied Monday, calling on elected officials to view public policies through a moral lens that focuses on the poor, workers, the sick and other disenfranchised people.

The rallies held Monday were part of the “Higher Ground Moral Day of Action,” led by the Rev. William Barber. Barber is the architect of the “Moral Monday” protests that begin in April 2013 in North Carolina to fight the conservative politics of a Republican governor and legislature.

The rallies, scheduled in 30 state capitals and Washington, D.C., attracted crowds ranging from about 300 people in Raleigh to about 50 in Austin, Texas. People marched around state Capitol buildings, rallied and delivered petitions to governors and other elected leaders and candidates.

“Today we declare … a call to higher ground,” said Barber, who took a spot in the national limelight when he spoke this year at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “And we move from the lowlands of hatred and racism and meanness and the politics of just you can defeat and who you can disparage to higher ground.”

The activists asked elected officials and candidates to sign a “Higher Ground Moral Declaration” to support issues that include voting rights, economic justice, workers’ rights, health care and the rights of LGBTQ people.

Miriam Thompson, 79, of Chapel Hill, sat on a bench with friends before the rally started, saying she has supported Barber since his early marches that began in 2007.

With her “Rosie the Riveter” tattoo displayed prominently on her upper right arm, she described herself as a long-time union supporter who supports the fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and its moral message “to give the workers and their labor the kind of respect they deserve and the ability to raise their families in dignity.”

Rallies in other states attracted crowds of varying sizes with most people talking about the fight for $15.

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