Duke Professors on ‘Moral Mondays’ Protests

Five Duke professors participated in a live webcast interview about the protests Monday

Hundreds of people have been arrested at the North Carolina Legislative Building as part of the "Moral Mondays" protests against policies by the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory. Five of those people -- Duke professors Willie Jennings, Robin Kirk, Bill Turner, Jed Purdy and Bill Chafe -- participated in a live webcast interview about the protests Monday, July 1.

Also joining the conversation was Duke alumnus David Graham, who wrote a recent article for The Atlantic about the protests, which compared North Carolina's politics with those of Wisconsin's two year ago.

Jennings is an associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke’s Divinity School. He explained his decision to get arrested in an essay in the online magazine Religion Dispatches.

“In North Carolina right now the Republican-controlled legislature has unleashed the most comprehensive set of right-wing draconian bills and laws that anyone in this state has ever seen,” he wrote.

In a post on Twitter, Kirk, faculty co-chair of the Duke Human Rights Center, wrote, “The pending elimination of the Racial Justice Act is one of the reasons I'm going to Moral Monday to protest...”

In an op-ed in the News and Observer, Chafe, a professor emeritus of history, said new state policies are reversing gains in justice, education and healthcare.

“We chose the path of civil disobedience … as a means of calling attention to the headlong assault on our state’s history by the governor and the state legislature,” he wrote with a colleague.

For Purdy, a professor at Duke’s Law School, the issue that moved him to get arrested was the state’s refusal of a federally funded Medicaid expansion.

“Statistically, next year more than two thousand people in the state will die who would have lived if North Carolina had accepted federal money to give health insurance to low-income families,” he wrote in the Huffington Post.

Turner is a professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School and a pastor of Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham. He was a speaker one of the Moral Mondays rallies.