Join the chorus of those opposing Amendment One. Join the broad spectrum of business, faith, community and political leaders opposing Amendment One. Join the chorus of North Carolinians who have RISEN UP to fight AGAINST Amendment One.
WUNC is currently running a chilling story which highlights an unsavory chapter in North Carolina’s history; I heard it last night while running some errands. While disturbing in-and-of itself, NC’s eugenics campaign of the mid-1950s teaches us that politics and injustice can easily walk hand-in-hand. Especially when money is involved.
The focus is mainly on Mecklenburg County, which sterilized 485 women out of the 7,600 total sterilized statewide during the entire existence of the NC Eugenics Board. While many states had eugenics programs in place, all but one required referral by a doctor (usually working in a mental hospital or prison). Only NC gave that power Continue reading
I took a trip to the Raleigh City Museum on Sunday in order to catch a nifty history play about the establishment of Raleigh as the capital of North Carolina. The City Museum is located in the old Briggs Hardware Building, smack dab in the middle of Fayetteville St. downtown. At four stories high, it was the tallest building in Raleigh for 33 years, and served as a hub for the purchase of home goods, tools, clothing and toys in the greater Raleigh area.
Currently, an entire wall on the bottom floor of the building is dedicated to chronicling North Carolina’s sluggish journey towards equal civil rights. The first panel on the wall deals directly with NC’s legislative response to the outcome of Brown v. The Board of Education (1954). As we all learned in grade school, the results of this Supreme Court verdict required that schools nation-wide desegregate, and it caused Governor Umstead to leap into action. He tasked Thomas Pearsall, former NC Speaker of the House, with creating the “Governor’s Special Advisory Commission on Education.” The Pearsall Plan was eventually adopted by the General Assembly convened in a special session (is this sounding familiar?) in June of 1956; it made provisions for the State to pay for the private education of any white student who could not abide attending an integrated school. The authority to control children’s school assignments in general was passed over to local school boards, which were heavily anti-integration. The Pearsall Plan was adopted into our State Constitution by a statewide vote of 5 to 1. It wasn’t until eight years later that the Federal Civil Rights Act rendered the Pearsall Plan unconstitutional and school assignment control was passed back to the State Board of Education.
I provide this brief lesson in our history to make a point. It’s laughable, the lengths to which politicians and the citizens of NC went to maintain the “purity” of their public schools. As the intervening years have shown, integrating the school system had no negative effect on the quality of education offered by the state. In fact, I would argue that my school experience was greatly enriched by steady exposure to a variety of ethnicities.
This brings us to the issue currently up for vote. Some conservatives argue that codifying this anti-gay marriage amendment is vital to the health and “purity” of all heterosexual marriages (not mentioning that states in which gay marriage is legal have the lowest divorce rates in the country). Legalizing marriage for all orientations is inevitable. It will happen. History has proven this out time and again; when it comes to civil rights in America, equality will be had eventually. No matter what individual states decide, a federal decision, just like the Federal Civil Rights Act, will come a-trundlin’ down the pipeline someday. As North Carolinians, we have a choice. We can choose to hem and haw, throwing paper-mache roadblocks in front of a barreling semi truck. Or we can choose to embrace the inevitable and emerge on history’s good side, with integrity unbesmirched. Let’s make up for our horrendous treatment of black Americans the last time we had a similar opportunity.
Prove that North Carolina today is more intelligent and progressive than it was 55 years ago. The choice is yours on May 8th.