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North Carolina has long been a battleground for democracy. So far, 27 people in the state have been indicted in connection with the effort to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th. No body of legislators has fought more fiercely to maintain Republican supermajority power in a demographically 50/50 state. On April 28, 2023, in a rare reversal of recent precedent, the new Republican majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down a previous ruling that threw out gerrymandered voting maps. And in this term, the Supreme Court will decide on Moore v Harper, a case that could give state lawmakers unchecked power over how elections are held — and even who gets to vote. In this episode, Laura Flanders sits down with the NC Attorney General Josh Stein and Hilary Harris Klein, lead attorney on the North Carolina case along with veteran civil rights attorney and law professor, Irving L. Joyner to discuss what these cases mean for democracy and voters of color. What does a better vision of democracy look like? Durham is home to the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice, named after the human rights activist whose work was integral to the Civil Rights Movement. Murray’s legacy lives on today, inspiring organizers who are determined to “bring the promise of democracy to life,” as Angela M. Thorpe, the center’s Executive Director, puts it. Serena Sebring, the Executive Director of Blueprint NC, shares what’s needed to build Murray’s vision of a multiracial democracy. What’s at stake? And who’s pushing back?
“North Carolinians do not want this gerrymandering . . . What the legislatures are trying to do here is not the people’s business. It is their own political entrenchment.” – Hilary Harris Klein
“You had 30 African Americans in the North Carolina General Assembly and all of that came crashing down in 2010 with the election of Republicans . . . Their first order of business was to attack the success that we had had in building up African American political power.” – Irving L. Joyner
“It’s not just Raleigh, it’s not just Charlotte. It’s not even just Durham that matters, but it is Columbus County, it is Pasquotank Country. It is all of the people of North Carolina who must be welcomed into a democracy, if it is to be what it says it is.” – Serena Sebring
“This legislature has been elected time and time again under unconstitutional maps . . . It’s not a surprise they have these powers, because that’s what they’ve done, is manipulate to their advantage.” – Josh Stein
“I think Pauli Murray would be incredibly concerned with the way legislatures and states across the US are working to strip people, particularly Black people, of their voting rights.” – Angela M. Thorpe
- Hilary Harris Klein: Senior Counsel of Voting Rights, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
- Irving L. Joyner: Professor of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law
- Serena Sebring: Executive Director, Blueprint NC
- Josh Stein: Attorney General, North Carolina
- Angela M. Thorpe: Executive Director, Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice
Related Episodes, Articles and More
Head to our Patreon for a list of related episodes and articles, including Laura Flanders’ report that was featured in The Nation. And check out all episodes in our series on the local roots of the January 6 insurrection on YouTube.
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