Tag Archives: North Carolina

MLK jr. speech 5/17/1957 ~ Give Us the Ballot ~

“Give Us the Ballot, We Will Transform the South”

by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Speech given before the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington, May 17, 1957

Martin Luther King, Jr. Three years ago the Supreme Court of this nation rendered in simple, eloquent and unequivocal language a decision which will long be stenciled on the mental sheets of succeeding generations. For all men of good will, this May 17 decision came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of segregation. It came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of distinguished people throughout the world who had dared only to dream of freedom. It came as a legal and sociological deathblow to the old Plessy doctrine of “separate-but-equal.” It came as a reaffirmation of the good old American doctrine of freedom and equality for all people.

Unfortunately, this noble and sublime decision has not gone without opposition. This opposition has often risen to ominous proportions. Many states have risen up in open defiance. The legislative halls of the South ring loud with such words as “interposition” and “nullification.” Methods of defiance range from crippling economic reprisals to the tragic reign of violence and terror. All of these forces have conjoined to make for massive resistance.

But, even more, all types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic traditions and its is democracy turned upside down.

So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.

So our most urgent request to the president of the United States and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote. Give us the ballot and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights. Give us the ballot and we will no longer plead to the federal government for passage of an anti-lynching law; we will by the power of our vote write the law on the statute books of the southern states and bring an end to the dastardly acts of the hooded perpetrators of violence. Give us the ballot and we will transform the salient misdeeds of blood-thirsty mobs into calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. Give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls with men of good will, and send to the sacred halls of Congressmen who will not sign a Southern Manifesto, because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice. Give us the ballot and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will “do justly and love mercy,” and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who have felt not only the tang of the human, but the glow of the divine. Give us the ballot and we will quietly and nonviolently, without rancor or bitterness, implement the Supreme Court’s decision of May 17, 1954.

<!–Read about recent allegations of voter disenfranchisement in Florida
and other states across the country in these articles.



Learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and read more of his speeches and writings at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University.

Resources: pbs.org

Voting Rights Roundup: North Carolina Republicans plot even more new ways to rig elections-reminder

North Carolina: It seems that not a week goes by without North Carolina’s Republican legislators concocting new schemes to change election laws to their benefit and usurp power from newly elected Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The GOP’s latest set of proposals would turn local elections into partisan contests for city councils, school boards, and even judges sitting on lower courts. Republicans hope that identify candidates by party will help them win downballot offices from Democrats in locales where the electorate otherwise leans Republican. Indeed, the state House has already approved these changes for judicial races, although the good news is that the measure passed with less than three-fifths support, meaning Cooper could successfully veto it if it also passes the Senate.

A separate effort would change the state Board of Education from an appointed body into an elected one. The governor currently chooses most of the board’s members, but the GOP’s bill would allow him to appoint only the board’s chairman, while the superintendent of public instruction and lieutenant governor (two Republican elected officials) would remain on the board.

Republicans also figured out a way to retain a hammerlock on the board’s 13 other members: elect one for each congressional district in the state. Since Republicans drew an extreme gerrymander (shown in the map at the top of this post) that guarantees them 10 of those seats in the House, this provision would almost certainly do the same for the board.

Unexpectedly, another proposal would move municipal elections from odd- to even-numbered years to increase turnout. That change could actually end up hurting Republican candidates, since races in even years often see higher turnout among Democratic-leaning demographics such as young voters and African-Americans.

Finally, several Republican lawmakers introduced a House bill to extend the length of the terms state legislators in both chamber serve from two years to four. Deviously, this proposed change would only take effect starting in 2022, meaning North Carolina would thenceforth elect its legislature only in midterm years. That could give Republicans a major leg up, since Democratic turnout tends to disproportionately drop in non-presidential elections. The measure would also impose a three-term limit for members of either chamber.

Changing the composition of the Board of Education and altering term lengths in this manner would require state constitutional amendments. Thanks to gerrymandering on the legislative level, Republicans just narrowly hold the three-fifths supermajorities needed to pass the measures, but any amendment would have to face voter approval, too. Unfortunately, legislators could time a referendum to coincide with the 2018 primary, when low turnout could result in a disproportionately Republican-leaning electorate.

Campaign Finance

Federal Election Commission: Democrat Ann Ravel announced that she plans to step down from the Federal Election Commission, which oversees campaign finance regulations. The commission has long been deadlocked between three Democrats and three Republicans, crippling its ability to adequately regulate elections, since the Republican commissioners almost invariably vote for less oversight. Ravel cited this very gridlock as a reason for her leaving.

While traditionally, Senate leaders in each party select their party’s commissioners, the ultimate authority to name Ravel’s replacement lies with Donald Trump. By law, no more than three commissioners can come from the same political party, but there’s nothing forcing Trump to appoint a Democrat as opposed to a conservative independent. Given Trump’s disdain for honoring longstanding political norms, he might appoint a commissioner who would side with the three Republicans, giving them an effective majority.

Such a move could be devastating for campaign finance restrictions. No longer shackled by partisan deadlock, the FEC could enable even more unaccountable campaign spending by overturning existing regulations and even participating in litigation against current restrictions. With no filibuster in the Senate, Democrats would be powerless to stop Trump from nominating an anti-regulation crusader if he so chooses.

Voting Access

California: California already tries to make voting easier than many states by automatically registering voters and by allowing everyone who wants to vote by mail, but despite these efforts, it still lags when it comes to turnout rates. One Democratic state senator wants to turn Election Day in November into a holiday for schools and state workers as a way to make it easier to vote. The bill wouldn’t affect private businesses, but its sponsor hopes many would follow suit.

Idaho: A committee in Idaho’s Republican-dominated state House approved a measure that would potentially cut early voting availability under the guise of standardizing the number of early voting hours offered throughout the state. Current law gives local jurisdictions the authority to choose whether to begin early voting on or before the third week prior to an election. This bill would restrict the start of early voting to one to three weeks before Election Day, which could reduce the current number of hours offered in some locales.

Nevada: Election reformers filed signatures last December to put an automatic voter registration law up for a statewide vote. The measure would register anyone who interacts with the Department of Motor Vehicles unless they choose to opt out. However, Nevada law gives the legislature the opportunity to pass such measures first, thereby avoiding the ballot.

Following the lead of these reformers, the Democratic-controlled state Assembly approved implementing automatic registration last week on a party-line vote. Democrats also hold a majority in the Senate, but they don’t have enough votes in either chamber to override a potential veto from Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. However, even if Sandoval vetoes the measure, it would still head to voters in 2018.

Election Reform

Utah: A bipartisan group of state legislators want this ruby red state to consider adopting instant-runoff voting, where voters rank multiple candidates in order of preference. If no one attains a majority in the first round, the last place candidate gets eliminated, and votes for that candidate shift to each voter’s second preference. That process repeats until one candidate achieves a majority.

Maine recently became the first state to implement instant-runoff voting for state and congressional races following a 2016 ballot initiative, but Utah could become the first state to pass this reform legislatively. Proponents want it to apply up and down the ballot in races where more than two candidates are running. A state House committee has already advanced a bill to the full chamber for consideration, but its chances of success are uncertain.

Electoral College

Connecticut: The Nutmeg State’s legislature will soon hold hearings over a proposal to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. That plan would award Connecticut’s seven Electoral College votes to the national popular vote winner regardless of which presidential candidate wins the state, but only if enough states amounting to a majority of electoral votes also sign on.

This compact is far and away the most realistic path toward having presidential elections reflect the popular vote, so naturally, most Republicans are adamantly opposed. Ten states and D.C. have currently joined the compact, but their total of 165 electoral votes is still well shy of the 270 majority needed for it to come into effect.

Democrats narrowly control Connecticut’s state government thanks to their lieutenant governor, who can break ties in their favor in the tied state Senate. So if the party is serious about this vital reform, they could pass it without any Republican support.

Maine: Democratic legislators in Maine also want their small state to add its four electoral votes to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Maine is one of just two states (along with Nebraska) that divides its electoral votes by congressional district. Candidates get one vote for each district that they win and two if they win the state. That system saw Donald Trump pick off one electoral vote thanks to his edge in the 2nd District, meaning Maine helped contribute to Trump’s Electoral College victory even though he lost the popular vote nationwide.

Democrats currently control the state House, but Republicans have a one-seat majority in the state Senate and hold the governor’s office. While Trump-esque Gov. Paul LePage could veto this bill even if it were to somehow pass the legislature, he’s term-limited in 2018. Democrats have a good chance of regaining the governor’s mansion and even retaking the state Senate next year. If they do attain unified control over the state government, they could have Maine join the popular vote compact ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

New Mexico: The Democratic-controlled state Senate recently approved a bill to include its five electoral votes in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This bill passed on a party-line vote, and although Democrats also hold the state House, they don’t have enough seats to override a possible veto from Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. However, like LePage in Maine, Martinez is term-limited in 2018, so New Mexico could join the compact by 2020 if they can win next year’s gubernatorial race.

But even if these three small states all enter the compact before the next presidential election, its members would still only total 181 electoral votes. In order to reach the 270 threshold, supporters would need to make inroads in several larger states, including some currently under Republican control.

Felony Disenfranchisement

Virginia: Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe took executive action in 2016 to begin restoring the voting rights of all citizens with felony convictions who had fully served out their sentences, an effort Republicans unsuccessfully opposed in court. In reaction, the Republican-run state Senate recently approved a state constitutional amendment that would restrict the governor’s ability to restore voting rights by making the process automatic but also imposing new burdensome restrictions.

However, the GOP-dominated state House just sunk that plan when a key committee decided not to advance the proposal. A constitutional amendment would need to pass both legislative chambers both this year and again after the 2017 elections, followed by a statewide voter referendum. With the legislature soon adjourning for the year, this measure appears to be dead for now.

Voter Suppression

Arkansas: As we’ve covered previously, the GOP-dominated state House passed a voter ID bill earlier this month, and the staunchly Republican state Senate appears poised to follow suit soon. A Senate committee passed an amended bill that would somewhat soften the House’s ID requirement by allowing registered voters who don’t have an ID to sign a sworn affidavit permitting them to vote. While that option could indeed lessen the law’s burden, the requirement could nonetheless intimidate registered voters who lack ID into not voting, or still disenfranchise them if a poll worker were to decide their signature doesn’t match the one on file.

Meanwhile, a House committee approved a resolution to put a constitutional amendment implementing voter ID on the ballot for 2018. The state Supreme Court had previously struck down as unconstitutional the voter ID law that Republican legislators passed in 2013, though GOP legislators believe their latest voter ID bill will survive judicial review, but it looks like they also want to change the state constitution just to be sure.

North Carolina: Last summer, a federal appeals court brought the hammer down on North Carolina Republicans’ sweeping 2013 voter suppression law, striking it down while slamming it for “target[ing] African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had asked the Supreme Court to review the law right before he left office at the end of last year, but now the man who beat him is trying to drop the state’s appeal. New Gov. Roy Cooper and state Attorney General Josh Stein moved to dismiss the attorneys who had been representing the state.

It’s uncertain, though, whether the two Democrats will be able to succeed. Republican state legislators could try to find a way to hire outside counsel to argue the state’s appeal, but the legislature itself is not a party to the lawsuit. Should those lawmakers succeed, though, the Supreme Court could reverse at least part of the lower court ruling if Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, gets confirmed.

Texas: Last year, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ strict voter ID law was racially discriminatory ahead of the 2016 elections. The judges had ordered the state to temporarily “soften” the law’s requirements by allowing registered voters who lacked the appropriate ID to sign a sworn affidavit to cast a ballot. Republican legislators are now fast-tracking a new bill that would make this system permanent so that the state remains in compliance with the court ruling. However, the Supreme Court might still hear a future appeal once a Trump appointee fills the high court’s vacant seat.

Ballot Measures

Arizona: Progressives have scored recent victories at the ballot box in Arizona, like a $12-an-hour minimum wage and a paid leave measure in 2016. And years ago, voters established an independent redistricting commission, which Republicans unsuccessfully fought in court in their quest to gerrymander the state. Unhappy that they can’t defeat progressive reforms when they’re on the ballot, Republican legislators are now mulling using their unified control over state government to impose new restrictions on the initiative and referendum process itself.

One proposal would ban campaigns from paying petition circulators on a per-signature basis, forcing them to pay them by the hour or rely on volunteers. Such a change could make it far more expensive for campaigns to obtain the voter signatures needed to put measures on the ballot because it could kill the incentive for circulators to gather as many signatures as possible.

Republicans claim that this proposal is an attempt to eliminate fraud, but the state already checks signatures for validity when campaigns submit them. And of course, Republicans don’t propose to ban paying circulators per signature when candidates themselves seek to qualify for the ballot, demonstrating just how nonsensical their justification is of supposedly preventing fraud.

Another bill would impose an even more onerous requirement that campaigns gather signatures in all 30 state legislative districts. This hurdle would make it particularly burdensome for progressive groups to acquire enough signatures in a timely manner because they’d have to target staunchly Republican districts, and canvassing in sparsely populated rural areas would be particularly time-consuming and costly. For instance, the state’s 5th Legislative District, which stretches almost 300 miles from the Utah border to just north of Yuma (and voted for Trump 73-22), is 533 times the size of the 30th District in downtown Phoenix (which backed Clinton 62-32). Good luck finding Democrats in a district like the 5th.

A House committee has already approved both of these changes, but there’s more afoot. Arizona has a law on the books called the Voter Protection Act that currently prohibits the legislature from altering voter-initiated laws in ways that undermine the statute’s intent. The GOP-controlled state House wants to do away with that act and has already voted to refer a ballot measure to the voters that would repeal the law and allow legislators to easily thwart voter-initiated laws measures.

When Republicans can’t gerrymander or suppress voters to guarantee victory, placing new restrictions on the ballot initiative process is a logical next step for those seeking to thwart democracy.

The Daily Kos Elections Voting Rights Roundup is written by Stephen Wolf and edited by David Nir.

To advertise in the Voting Rights Roundup, please contact advertise@dailykos.com.

To: North Carolina State Legislature Fair Voting Districts Now !


Contact Campaign Creator

Campaign created by
Bob Hall
Fair Voting Districts Now !

Draw political district maps that are fair and open, avoids racial or partisan gerrymandering!

Why is this important?

North Carolina has a long history of lawmakers drawing voting districts in ways that weaken the political power of voters, especially Black voters. Drawing bad districts can disenfranchise voters, just like the Jim Crow poll tax and North Carolina’s recent election changes that a court said “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The current NC General Assembly districts were drawn to pack Black voters into a small number of districts and also separate them from progressive whites to prevent “fusion” coalitions from winning more seats in the legislature. A growing coalition is fighting back, just as we are fighting against North Carolina’s voter suppression laws.

Right now, Black legislators and their allies have introduced multiple bills in the NC General Assembly that would reform the redistricting process. The bills complement the litigation and grassroots organizing for fair districts. We must support this effort to make sure voters can pick their political representatives, not the other way around.

We urge the NC General Assembly to adopt a redistricting process that:

-Abides by the federal Voting Rights Act and avoids racial or partisan bias;
-Provides for deep involvement from local communities to ensure that all voices are respected.
-Uses best practices from across the nation to draw district maps that reflect NC’s diverse population.

By following these principles, North Carolina lawmakers can protect our voting rights, ensure that Black voters are fairly represented, and create a state that values all voices.


Workers share fast food items you should never eat

by Desair Brown, USA TODAY

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 6:48 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 11 at 6:48 AM



Fast-food workers are fessing up on the menu items you should probably avoid.

Several days ago, Reddit posed this question on its site: “Fast food workers of Reddit, what should we NOT order at your restaurant? Why not?” And the responses keep coming.

Here are a few items that, according to Redditors, you should never order at their fast-food restaurants.

1. McDonald’s chicken nuggets and any McCafe drink. You can ask for fresh nuggets, but avoid the fancy beverages. Apparently, the machines are hard to clean.

2. Subway egg and tuna salad sandwiches. The salads come from a bag and are heavily mixed with mayonnaise. The cold cuts are kept in a smelly syrup.

3. Pizza Hut pizza. Chances are the dough is old, oily and handled without gloves.

4. KFC’s BBQ sandwich. The chicken is too old to even give away. It’s soaked in barbecue sauce until it can be pulled apart.

5. Wendy’s chili. The beef comes from old, dried-up meat on the grill that’s re-heated.

Watch the video for more fast-food items workers say you shouldn’t order.

Follow @desairbrown on Twitter

Ferguson Decision in Context


The Disturbing Facts Surrounding The Case And Where We Go From Here

By now the world knows about the grand jury decision announced last night to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, on August 9. What you may not know, however, is the context surrounding the case: how remarkably rare it is for a grand jury not to indict, but how remarkably common it is for tragedies like this one to occur; a prosecutor asked to step down before presenting the case, and then slammed by experts afterward for how he handled it. These circumstances have amounted to a situation that has left many people, paradoxically, shocked yet unsurprised at how it unfolded, and searching for accountability and answers about how to prevent more tragedies like this in the future.

A decision by the grand jury not to indict is very rare. According to statistics from the Justice Department, grand juries declined to return and indictment in just 11 of 162,000 federal cases prosecuted by U.S. attorneys in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. While Wilson’s case was heard in state court, not federal, legal experts agree that it is extremely rare for prosecutors at any level to fail to win an indictment.

The prosecutor’s tactics made a charge much less likely. According to legal experts, county prosecutor Robert McCollough approached the case in a way that could have made an indictment less likely. He decided to let the grand jury hear “every scrap of evidence,” as he put it. Typically, prosecutors present to the grand jury only the evidence necessary to establish probable cause – a grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but only if a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty. Watch this video to learn more.

The prosecutor faced widespread criticism leading up to the decision, and after it. As the case began, civil rights groups called for McCollough to step down, citing his previous support for police officers in another police misconduct case, and a family history that includes many family members on the police force including his father, who was killed by a black man with a gun. After the decision last night, many decried McCoullough’s choice to make the announcement late at night, his long-winded explanation pointing fingers at the media, and his defiant tone that reinforced prior frustration with how he handled the case.

In the wake of the decision, community activists are taking the long view. ThinkProgress reporter Carimah Townes reports from Ferguson: “The death of Michael Brown was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, adding to a longer list of grievances in the community, such as income inequality and the need for a $15 minimum wage. And activist groups, professional associations, and individuals in and around the city are already looking — and planning — beyond the verdict, in the hopes of seeking justice for individuals who die at the hands of police.”

Lives cut short by police violence happen all too often. A 22-year-old carrying a sword his mother said was a toy. A 12-year-old gunned down by police while carrying a toy gun at a playground. Another 22-year-old who had just picked up a BB gun stocked on the shelf of a WalMart. A young man walking down a darkened stairwell in an apartment complex after he and his girlfriend got tired of waiting for the elevator. These are just a few of the numerous examples of lives cut short by police since Michael Brown was killed in August.

BOTTOM LINE: The context surrounding the decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown only increases the immensely troubling and tragic nature of the incident. While we respect the work and the decision of the grand jury, days like yesterday are a clear reminder about how much work we still have left to do to ensure that treatment by the criminal justice system is not determined by one’s race, and that the opportunity to prosper is not based on one’s ZIP code.