If you’ve ever wondered how it feels to live the adage, “two steps forward, one step back,” welcome to North Carolina. We’re having a 2-step forward celebration after three long years of step-back. Once again, people in North Carolina who want to vote can vote without running the gauntlet erected in 2013 when law makers (the ones we voted for) enacted some of the most regressive voting laws in the nation. Prior to 2013, we had some of the most progressive laws in the land supporting early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and pre-registration. In those two-step forward days, the laws made voting easier for our college students, older adults, and working poor. It was easy to register, easy to vote early, easy to vote—period.
One might think law makers would want folks to vote— we do pride ourselves on being a democracy, after all. As it turns out, some law makers only want certain people to vote. The federal courts, thankfully, saw through that fog, writing that those limiting laws were passed with “racially discriminatory intent.”
The NC Council of Churches was founded in 1935 by church leaders who saw “racially discriminatory intent” all around them and set out to address it. We are proud to claim that heritage while being saddened there is still so much work to do. Occasions like this one remind us the work is worth it. It also reminds us that all the work we do for racial equity, workers’ rights, immigration rights, healthy living, care for creation, etc., is part of a long walk. Those who set us on this path over 80 years ago, sometimes walking two steps forward and sometimes taking one step back, have walked on out of this life, but their walk is what makes our walk possible. And so we, too, will stay the course, celebrating on the two-step forward days and remaining resolute on the one-step back days. On this two-step forward occasion, let’s celebrate by taking a friend with us when we go register to vote. And then take two friends with you this November when you exercise that right to vote!