Phone call from my sister two weeks ago:
Me: Well, hi, thanks for calling back! I just wanted to say Happy Birthday.
Sister: Yeah, well, thanks, but Mom wanted me to tell you Dad’s in jail.
But maybe I’m conveying the wrong message here. My dad was only in jail for about 7 hours. And he was quite happy to be there. And my mom and my sisters and I were all very proud of him.
Long story short: In North Carolina (my home state where I haven’t lived for 23 years), the NAACP has teamed up with some Triangle-area churches and concerned individuals to protest the state legislature’s passage of a whole raft of bills threatening public education and anti-poverty programs. I won’t go into details here, but this video should give you the general idea:
May 20 was the third “Moral Monday” that the protest group met to call fellow North Carolinians to “Wake Up.” The first Monday, 12 folks got themselves arrested for not leaving the legislature when the police said to. Second Monday–28 people. Then came the 20th: 57 people arrested, including my dad, proudly re-living his sit-in days from 50 years ago.
He got bailed out at 2 in the morning. All is well; he’s retired, so this “blemish” on his record can’t hurt his career. But this episode serves me as a reminder that for many, if not most, in history, standing up for what’s right has been a dangerous business. It’s easy to see civil disobedience through the lense of time as something noble, creating inevitable change–and easy to forget how terrifying, chaotic, and destructive such action could be for the participants and their families.
How about you? Do any particular examples of civil disobedience give you goose bumps? Tell me about it.