Groups rally in Raleigh

  • Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013 12:54 a.m.

RALEIGH (AP) — Worried about actions of the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly, civil rights and left-leaning groups had a sense of urgency during their annual march in downtown Raleigh.

The “Historic Thousands on Jones Street” event began Saturday morning at Shaw University. Thousands of marchers made the walk to the Legislative Building on Jones Street.

The march was being spearheaded by the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and includes more than 140 coalition groups. Poverty, education and voting rights are among the issues being emphasized Saturday.

“In the face of our progressive agenda, we’ve seen a new ultra-conservative, Republican-led leadership unleash a cruel and unusual attack on labor rights, unemployment rights, Medicaid and voting rights,” said NAACP North Carolina President Rev. William Barber. “It will have a devastating impact on the poor and working people.”

Coalition members expressed concerned about attempts by the legislature to pass a voter identification bill. A measure that cuts jobless benefits could reach GOP Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk next week.

The state’s poverty rate is 12th highest in the U.S., with one of every four children living in poverty. The rate is much higher for black and Latino children. The NAACP says 1.7 million North Carolinians live in poverty.

“The gap between the rich and poor is wider than it was during the Great Depression,” Barber said. “There are 700,000 in deep poverty, 600,000 children. There are 10 counties where the poverty rate has been over 20 percent for more than 30 years.”

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