Old North Statements

As some of you may know, I got to do my first reading/signing for Along Those Lines at McIntyre's Books in Fearrington Village, NC, back on Saturday, and I had a blast. This was not unexpected, as I'd had a similar good time at my last McIntyre's appearance, and it's always helpful to know there will be friendly faces in the audience. In this case, those faces included those of family (my parents, my aunt, my brother and my nephews), family friends from decades past (the Haigs and Nebels), schoolchums (Ginny and Bruce and Tom and David and Laura), and friends of more recent vintage as well.

Rather than reading length sections of a book, I tend to view readings as a chance to provide both snippets of the text (for those who haven't read any of it yet) and answers to questions (for those who have read some). This also allows me to go back to the book when someone asks a question that the book itself answers, and I will thus often end up reading a passage that I hadn't originally intended to read. I guess it's sort of like showing up with a set list and also taking requests. (No, this is not an excuse for you to yell, "Free Bird!" when I call for questions.)

In any case, the reading went well, and the one audience member who suggested that the book was basically just free-associating (which is at least partially true) was followed by another who praised my ability to seemingly go off on endless tangents before suddently, right at the end of a chapter, bringing the audience back to the original point (which is something I definitely try to do.)

After about an hour of reading and talking, I settled in to sign some books and take a couple of photos, including this shot of some of the CHHS crowd, taken by emeritus professor Sterling Haig:

DSC01848.JPG(Standing are three members of my own 1981 class,Tom Cell, Bruce Cairns, and David Nelson, while Laura Thomas '82 sits on the arm of my chair.)

I spent the rest of the weekend relaxing with my folks, watching the NBA Finals (in which Danny Green became, if I'm not mistaken, the 14th former Tar Heel to play on an NBA champion team) and the World Cup, and zipping around town to catch up with friends, several of whom generously bought me beers and/or meals.

But on Monday afternoon, my mother and I packed up our water bottles, met my friend Tom, and headed out into the heat to the Moral Monday protest outside the NC legislature. Organized by the state NAACP and its president, the Rev. William Barber, Moral Monday has become a regular feature of the summer landscape in Raleigh, and after Mom attended a rally last year, I thought this might be a good opportunity to join her. Thanks to the arrival of Governor Pat McCrory and a host of his Republican brethren, Raleigh has become a source of concern for me because of the damage they are doing to my home state and its people. Whether it's turning down a Medicaid expansion that could save lives, encouraging ecologically dangerous policies (shielding power companies from coal ash cleanups, refusing to acknowledge climatologists' predictions in making policy, and even making it illegal to reveal what fracking companies are pumping into the ground), or even trying to shut down the Moral Monday protests themselves, the GOP majority is doing its level best to turn the South's most progressive state into its most regressive one. I figured the least I could do is show up and offer my support to my fellow North Carolinians.

Despite the brutal heat--a good 95 degrees when the speakers began at 5:00--the 800-1500 attendees on the mall were treated to a string of strong speeches from a variety of perspectives; we heard from a lawyer, a union organizer, a rabbi, a teacher, a couple of fast food workers, and a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, all of whom kept the crowd focused on the injustices caused by the policies enacted across the street. Then Rev. Barber himself took the lectern, and I'm hear to tell you: the man can speak. Despite his frail health, when he gets his teeth into an idea, he pulls on it with power, and he's not afraid to spit blood in the process.

DSC01867.JPGIn some ways, though, I was most impressed when he stepped forward to interrupt another speaker (seen above). He cut in after she had said only a few words, and he did so in order to scold some members of the audience who were conversing among themselves. It was important, he argued, that they give their undivided attention to those at the lectern, because their words were so important to understanding the stakes of this fight. And since the woman speaking was a young single mother working at Wendy's--and thus both too poor for insurance or Obamacare, yet unable to get Medicaid thanks to NC's refusal to expand it--her tale of struggling with cervical cancer was one that the crowd absolutely did need to hear. That was the act of a man who is more than an orator; it was the act of a man who intends to educate, and to bring about change through that education.

Following the rally, we filed across the mall and into the legislature's rotunda, where we did some chanting and singing, and where Judge Carl Fox's recent smackdown of the NCGA's rules about what can/cannot be said in the building was apparently ignored by law enforcement officials. About 20 people were, according to their own plan, arrested downstairs for their civil disobedience, though Mom, Tom, and I were not among them. (Instead, we withdrew the cooler confines of Gravy, a very nice Italian restaurant, where we rehydrated, caught the tail end of the USA/Ghana game, and were treated to dinner by Tom.)

If you're interested in fighting the good fight, and in hearing some remarkable oration in the process, I'd urge you to consider visiting Raleigh some Monday. Visit the NAACP/North Carolina's website and get more information about supporting and/or participating in this democratic (small D) effort.

The people of North Carolina would appreciate it. I would appreciate it as well.

Keep 'em flying, folks.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on June 18, 2014 5:27 PM.

Reminder: McIntyre's on Saturday was the previous entry in this blog.

Oh, and Before I Forget... is the next entry in this blog.

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