By now I've been involved in many a news event, but never till yesterday in a press conference over at the Legislature in Raleigh. It was well organized and fairly well attended (but how would I know?), all set up by the unflappable Ashaki Binta. Little did I know how little it all would come to.
Ashaki is spearheading a quixotic campaign to get North Carolina's law against public-sector collective bargaining overturned. One by one we spoke: first the Rev. Dr. William Barber of Goldsboro (he preached in Chapel Hill on MLK Day). Barber was born in 1963 two days after Dr. King spoke on the Washington Mall; all his life he's understood that he was, for his family, the very embodiment of that dream that is still unfinished. Rev. Nelson Johnson of Greensboro took up the MLK theme and reminded us that when he met his fate in Memphis he was advocating for public employees.
Following him, I talked about how the Chapel Hill Town Council had unanimously agreed to ask our legislative delegates to propose legislation that would overturn the bad law and replace it with one affirmatively allowing public sector collective bargaining. And I said that in Chapel Hill, where we're about to honor Dr. King with the name of our "Main Street," we understand that by the time he got to Memphis he had broadened his sights from civil rights for African Americans to human rights for all, and that included economic justice.
All of us, and others, spoke about the powerful testimony we had heard directly from workers and how it had convinced us that this law should be changed.
Here's how it was reported in the Raleigh paper (see "Never-ending news conferences").