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The Sing Along Continues After Arrests 7.30.2013 in Wisconsin Capital (by Leslie Amsterdam)

What a day: Moral Monday  in review

Thousands marched from Halifax Mall to Fayetteville Street to hear a fiery speech delivered by N.C. NAACP President William Barber II during the final Moral Monday demonstration of the N.C. legislative session. See a highlight video by N&O staff photojournalist Travis Long who covered the majority of Moral Monday and related demonstrations for the The News & Observer.

Voices of Moral Mondays

Adrienne Taylor: 

Moral Mondays is an ongoing series of nonviolent protests at the North Carolina General Assembly lead by the North Carolina NAACP. I have attended these protests to show my support as an involved North Carolinian and to document as a photographer. But I don’t want to just take photographs, I want to engage the subject and viewers. I hope to connect you, the viewer, to the emotions of the people affected by an injustice happening in our beautiful state. Thank you for taking the time to hear our voices.

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians poured into the streets of at least 25 cities across the country Monday, blanketing the streets of major cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and climbing to the roof of the Brazilian National Congress in Brasilia, the nation’s capital. The protests, sparked last week by a smaller demonstration against fare hikes on public buses, are taking place around the Confederations Cup, the soccer tournament that began Saturday as a tune-up for Brazil’s 2014 hosting of the World Cup.

The World Cup has become a symbol of corruption and overspending in the country. Brazil, originally slated to spend less than $1 billion in private funding on soccer stadiums, has already spent more than $3 billion, most of which has come from public funds. Meanwhile, schools and hospitals are overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded, infrastructure is crumbling, and income inequality is rising as Brazil’s minimum wage remains low. The money spent on the World Cup, the protesters say, would be better spent on efforts to help ordinary Brazilians.

Though there were small pockets of violence during demonstrations in some cities, the vast majority of the protests remained peaceful, according to local news reports. Here are pictures from Monday’s protests.

instagram:

Instagrammers Capture Protests in Brazil

Thousands gathered in Brazil’s largest cities starting over the weekend and running through tonight to protest what started as a fight against bus-fare increases and has evolved into one of the biggest movements since the nation’s military dictatorship ended in 1985. Protesters are voicing frustration about a variety of issues, including inflation, government corruption, tax rates and the cost and delays associated with next year’s World Cup soccer tournament.

In São Paulo, thousands took to Avenida Paulista to march and wave Brazilian flags. In Rio de Janeiro, marchers stormed Avenida Rio Branco. In Brasilía, protesters danced atop the roof of the Congresso Nacional. To view more photos, visit the #vemprarua and #protestorj hashtags.

As a public school teacher in North Carolina—not an “outsider” that Governer McCrory alleges is at the helm of the Moral Monday protests, but an educator grounded in and devoted to the community of Durham—I am ardent to stand up for the future of my students. When I came out of college straight into teaching seven years ago, I believed that teaching English was going to be about, well, teaching English. I thought that my task was to impart in my students a love of, or at least a less fervent dislike for, Shakespeare and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Within a few short weeks I learned how mistaken I was. Sure, there was still room for Boo and the Bard, but teaching was really about providing stability, respect, and compassion to teenagers desperate to learn in a system that was failing them. It was about talking to K about why he shouldn’t drop out. It was about visiting J in the hospital after her miscarriage. It was about tutoring 15-year-old T so he could move past a fifth grade reading level.
Because this was what my students needed, this is what teaching became for me. It is what teaching means for thousands of teachers, counselors, teaching assistants, and other public school workers across the state, as we prepare our students for successful futures, not just academically, but in every way. We work long past our salaried hours to create instruction that challenges our students to grow as critical thinkers. We advise clubs where our students can express themselves. We coach sports to promote health and self-discipline. We counsel the crying, laugh with the happy, protect the bullied, and motivate the discouraged. We are honest with our students about their struggles and successes, and about our own. We do all this not for professional gain but because we firmly believe that these children are worth everything we can give them. We do it because what we teachers want is no different than what our students need.
What the General Assembly wants, however, is in stark contrast to what the children of North Carolina need. In their pursuit to destroy public education via budgets that cut funding, school vouchers that favor private companies, and the elimination of master’s degree pay, the legislature shows how little they care about the quality and longevity of those educating our kids. I am a seventh year teacher whose pay is frozen at the second year rung of the pay scale, in the state with the 4th worst teacher pay in the country. I have seen dozens of excellent teachers move on to other professions or other states so they could sustain themselves and their families. At my school, students regularly ask new teachers “will you be here next year?” because they are so used to our terrible turnover rates.
It’s not just education legislation that is bent on destroying our most vulnerable communities through persistent instability. The General Assembly is curbing voting rights, letting unemployment benefits expire, and repealing the Racial Justice Act, all while giving tax breaks to corporate giants. My students aren’t naïve. They know that their communities are being marginalized.
Last year, a student at our school was murdered. In the weeks that followed, my students and I cried out in anguish and anger and asked the toughest questions one could imagine: Why did this student end up where he was? What could any of us have done? How can we keep this from happening again? Our teenagers know to ask these critical questions, but the leaders in Raleigh have failed to ask them: How do we make sure justice is served for all North Carolinians? How do we transform struggling communities into havens of health and stability? My students create solutions, like organizing a march to the early voting polls and memorial for their classmate. Meanwhile, politicians ignore humanity and count capital.
Next school year, as I always have in the past, I will tell my students every day that they are important and loved. What I wish I could tell them is that the people in power agree—that our General Assembly believes in their futures just like I do. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do that. I will get to tell them, however, that thousands of North Carolinians testified to their worth during the Moral Mondays, and that a movement that believes in them is coming. This movement is not the work of “outside agitators,” as the Governor believes, but the best and bravest that our state has to offer. It’s a movement led by and fighting for the well-being of 9.7 million insiders—the people of North Carolina who desire a healthy, sustainable future in our state for generations to come.

Holly Jordan, a Durham county NC public school teacher, The Heart of a Teacher, the Soul of Our State