RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina civil rights leaders are threatening to sue the state over a recently passed law that allows mostly white communities near Charlotte to create their own charter schools and a potential new voter ID law.
“Legislating state sponsored discrimination cannot continue without consequences,” North Carolina NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman said at a Monday news conference.
Spearman called this year’s General Assembly the “suppression session.” He said his organization will join with fellow civil rights group Color of Change to urge Apple and Amazon not to put new campuses near Raleigh because of the proposals.
The charter school law passed last week without Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature because it is a local bill. It allows the mostly white and well-off Charlotte-area communities of Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville and Cornelius to apply to create charter schools outside Charlotte’s system.
The Charlotte branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held its own news conference last week to speak out against that bill.
“Lawmakers in Raleigh are taking us back to the future with unambiguous school segregation as state policy. But we cannot sit ideally by and let legislators take us back to the ’40s and ’50s. I’m not going back,” former Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board Chairman Arthur Griffin said.
Supporters of the charter school bill said Charlotte’s school system has been unable to fix overcrowding in the rapidly growing suburbs and the proposal gives them some local control over schools.
The voter ID proposal is a constructional amendment proposed last week by House Republicans. If passed by the General Assembly, the amendment would go before voters in November.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a photo ID law in 2013, but a federal appeals court determined three years later that the mandate and other voting restrictions were passed with discriminatory intent targeting black residents.
Spearman said that amendment if passed should also be struck down.
“Do not compromise the rights of people of color and the poor,” Spearman said.