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Published on May 11, 2013
http://www.storyofamerica.org/histori... If the North Carolina General Assembly is concerned about its place in history, it looks like they've got something to worry about. Several of the world's top historians, three of whom appear in the video below, have been arrested in recent days protesting what Rev. Dr. William Barber II called an "avalanche of extremist policies that threaten health care, education, voting rights."
The civil disobedience campaign is being led by Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP. Each Friday for the past three weeks, they have announced their intentions for the following Monday. So far, over 50 people have been arrested. This past Friday, we filmed as more than a dozen people volunteered to risk arrest on Monday May 13.
In a widely read op-ed published on Thursday in the Raleigh News and Observer, William Chafe of Duke University and Jacquelyn Dowd Hall of UNC Chapel Hill wrote:
This week, we were arrested at the General Assembly. We chose the path of civil disobedience -- along with 29 others -- as a means of calling attention to the headlong assault on our state's history by the governor and the state legislature.
We are not radicals. Each of us has been president of the Organization of American Historians, the leading professional organization of all American historians. We cherish the history we have spent our lives studying. Yet now we see a new generation in Raleigh threatening to destroy the very history we have spent our lives celebrating.
I believe that Robert R. Korstad and Tim Tyson, also of Duke University, contributed to this piece, but the Observer only allows two authors for op-eds. The piece concludes:
This political juggernaut runs totally contrary to what North Carolina has stood for during the last half century. It represents class warfare against the middle class and the working-class residents of our state. Justice lies at the core of our civic life. And we are all responsible for sustaining that justice.
As Robert F. Kennedy told students in apartheid South Africa in 1966, "Each time a [person] stands up ... to improve the lot of others, or strike out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walks of oppression and resistance."
That is why we stood up, why we got arrested.
The historians criticize the policies being protested proposed because: (1) they hurt the middle class and the poor (2) they give tax cuts to the wealthy, and (3) they restrict voting rights. In his speeches, Rev. Dr. Barber makes the connection between the three.
One of the policies briefly touched upon, but never fully explained in this video, is a private school voucher law that would redirect public money to private schools. Critics of this policy say that this will lead to a resegregation of North Carolina's school system, with the children of wealthy families attending private academies (with public subsidies), while children of poor and middle class families are left with public schools that are even more poorly funded thanks to taxpayer dollars going to private schools instead. (While we were filming in Alabama, a similar bill was rushed through the state legislature, outraging voters who complained it was done "in the dead of night" and "behind closed doors.")