The NC Council of Churches is proud to publish a brand new e-book collection of testimonies from Moral Mondays. With 32 short vignettes from North Carolinians across the state, Voices of Moral Mondays tells the story of everyday folks being motivated to speak out on account of their faith. Many, though not all, of the accounts describe what it was like to engage in civil disobedience and be arrested by the authorities. Click here to download the free e-book.
By Natalie Boorman, United Church of Chapel Hill
I attended most Moral Monday rallies and chose to participate in civil disobedience on June 3. Moral Mondays are important to me because I believe all of us have a right to fair treatment by our government, and our current state government is unfairly and severely cutting programs for the poor and middle classes.
I am a social worker by profession and am especially concerned about cuts to health care for as many as 500,000 particularly vulnerable people in North Carolina. I am confused by politicians who say people should be allowed to have guns, and those who are mentally ill should seek treatment. How are they going to do that when hospitals and other treatment options are having their budgets cut, thus fewer resources are available?
While I was waiting to be “processed” in jail, I noticed a teenage African American boy locked in a cell directly across from me. His behavior made me wonder if he had mental health problems. Where will he go for services in the juvenile court system? Has it become a substitute for mental services? Does he have any support outside prison? Will prison become his life? I also observed a young African American woman who was dragging a bundle of possessions behind her as she walked to her cell. What will happen to her? Is she alone in the world, except for prison?
I realized during the brief time I was a prisoner, that even in jail, or perhaps especially in jail, white privilege counts. I had a huge support network within the jail (there were 151 of us arrested that night), we were treated with respect and kindness by the jail staff, and we expected to be released within a few hours.
Not only that, the moment we were released, many people were waiting to thank us, NAACP-NC attorneys were there to explain the legal process, and there was food! They fed us hot dishes, sandwiches, fruit, cookies, on and on at 1:30 in the morning. “When I was hungry, you fed me.”
Going to jail was both a small thing and a big thing. It was truly a small sacrifice given how well I was treated. It also was big for me in so many ways. My eyes were opened to the irony of poverty within the jail system and the gratitude others showered on me. Why is it so easy for us to give to those like us and hard to give to those who seem different?