In a surprise announcement, local leaders have revealed that Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, will be the guest speaker for Wednesday’s “Taking the Dream Home to Lincolnton” event.
Deanna McGinnis, chair of the Lincoln County Democratic Party, said she received word late Monday night that he would be in attendance for the rally, one of 13 taking place simultaneously across the state to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington and to protest against laws passed by both the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly and the U.S. Congress.
The event, planned for 5:30 p.m. in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse, is aligned with the “Forward Together” and “Moral Monday” movements, a statewide initiative led by Barber in response to legislators’ actions on issues such as voting rights, public education, health care, women’s rights and unemployment benefits.
Originally, Barber was expected to have only a video presence for the gathering, according to details discussed during a press conference Friday afternoon by local NAACP leaders.
Lincoln County NAACP Branch President Debra Williams, who had hinted at a “surprise guest,” said she knew all along that Barber would likely be at the rally, but did not get the go-ahead to release the information to the press until late Monday.
Barber’s security detail was in town last week to check out the area for safety purposes, McGinnis said.
Lincolnton was chosen as the site of the 10th Congressional District’s event, with busloads of people from across the region, including Asheville, Hickory and Gastonia, expected to be in town to participate.
Organizers have been coordinating with other municipalities throughout the district to plan for the event.
The protest movement began with weekly protests in Raleigh on each Monday of the legislative session, during which thousands gathered and hundreds were arrested over the course of 13 weeks.
With the session now over, leaders of the movement have vowed to bring the demonstrations to legislators’ hometowns and continue to stress that it’s about human rights, not politics or party lines.
For more information on Wednesday’s rally, call the local NAACP unit at (704) 268-9419.