Moral Mondays Goes Down to Georgia

Terrance Heath

In Charlie Daniel’s 1979 hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” looking for a soul to steal. Today the Moral Mondays movement brings its brand of righteous progressivism to the Georgia state capitol, to demand accountability from Georgia lawmakers and better lives for Georgians — and to deliver a special message to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. 

Launched by Rev. William Barber last year, in response to the North Carolina GOP’s “mean-spirited quadruple attack” on the state’s most vulnerable citizens, the Moral Mondays movement revived the moral progressivism of the civil rights movement. It captured the imaginations of progressives, and united diverse groups against the North Carolina legislature’s extremist agenda.

Moral Monday protests spread to Georgia in January, in opposition to what the Atlanta Progressive called the “extremist veto-proof Republican-led Legislature that is working in concert with a like-minded Gov. Nathan Deal.” As with the North Carolina protests, the Georgia’s Moral Monday’s movement is informed by and infused with the “fusion politics” that unites disparate progressive constituencies against an opposition that attacks them as one.

In a press release this week, Moral Mondays Georgia called attention to “moral” legislation such as strengthening voting rights, gun control, affordable housing, reproductive rights and public education, and blasted the Georgia legislature’s “right-wing agenda.”

“The Georgia state government’s right-wing agenda promotes corporate greed over people’s needs; denies healthcare to over 600,000 uninsured Georgians; has cut over $7.6 billion from public education in the past 10 years; accelerates income inequality by restricting workers’ rights and benefits; attacks women’s reproductive freedom; promotes bigotry towards the LGBT community; enables gun violence through ‘Stand Your Ground’ and ‘Carry Anywhere’ laws; and seeks to restrict our voting rights,” the coalition explained in a press release sent last week.

Since then, many activists have been arrested for civil disobedience. According to the New York Times, more than a dozen were arrested in the public gallery of the Senate today, as they unfurled a banner and chanted, “Medicaid expansion now! Our lives matter!”, in protest of a bill to block Medicaid expansion in Georgia.

In response, activists blocked the doors to the Senate chamber and occupied Gov. Nathan Deal’s office to demand Medicaid expansion, leading to further arrests.

It’s unlikely that arrests and increased pushback from conservatives lawmakers will stop Georgia’s Moral Monday movement, any more than it stopped civil rights activists in Georgia and other southern states decades ago. Today’s protest is the ninth such protest this year, and protestors sang in the state capitol rotunda today, they “ain’t gonna let nobody” turn them around now

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