Brother of slain civil rights activist to speak at march

This article was originally published in the HeraldSun: 

The Rev. William Barber, the founder of the “Moral Monday” movement is sick. His successor as president of the state chapter of the NAACP is sick. And the weather forecast calls for showers. But the organizers of a North Carolina civil rights march still expect a big crowd.

The Rev. Anthony Spearman, who became president of the state chapter of the NAACP in October, will lead the 12th annual “Moral March on Raleigh” on Saturday.

Barber is scheduled as the second-to-last speaker, followed by Spearman. Barber said he may be too sick to attend in person and if so, plans to address the crowd remotely.

Barber, a powerful speaker who meshes current events, history and religious passages in his calls for actions, is a difficult act to follow. Spearman said he’s not nervous, however, because he’s comfortable with his own style.

“I stand in my own personality, first and foremost,” said Spearman, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms. “When someone tells me that I have big shoes to fill, I say ‘I will fill the shoes I’ve been filling.’ I’m not attempting to be someone else. I will give what I can give and do what I can do and give the best that I can give to the movement. ”

Barber founded the “Moral March on Raleigh” in 2007, when Democrats still dominated North Carolina’s Legislature and held the governor’s seat. It has largely focused state government, especially against the conservative-leaning agenda that Republicans implemented. This year’s march is billed as a “moral resistance” that moves from the streets to the ballot box.

The permit application says the estimated crowd size is 10,000 people. Last year, the application estimated 20,000.

Speakers include David Goodman, the brother of Andrew Goodman, who was 20 years old when he and two other civil rights activists were ambushed and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen during Freedom Summer. Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney had been investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi, when they were killed June 21, 1964.

Their slayings helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Before the march begins, a pre-rally will focus on young people, who will speak from a stage, Spearman said.