The History of Move to Amend (MTA) in North Carolina: How a Grassroots Group (NC We the People Campaign) evolved from a national affiliation with MTA to an independent yet closely-affiliated endorsing state organization.
The Move[ment] to Amend (MTA) was formed in Northern California in 2009—in preparation for the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Today, the coalition of over 462,000 people and hundreds of Affiliate organizations have helped to pass over 700 resolutions in municipalities and local governments across the country calling on the state and federal governments to adopt the We the People Amendment. Eighteen state legislatures have passed similar resolutions that call for Congressional action stating:
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to Amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
In North Carolina, at least three MTA Affiliates were formally organized after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizen United: The Asheville Buncombe County Move to Amend, The Far-West NC Move to Amend, and the Charlotte Area Move to Amend. Other groups that did not form a formal affiliation with MTA in Carrboro, the Triangle and in Greenville achieved several town government resolutions of the MTA Resolution and gathered significant MTA petition signatures.
Move to Amend Affiliates in North Carolina
MTA Asheville Buncombe County (MABCO) Began November 2011.
- Obtained an overwhelming passage of the MTA facsimile Resolution from the Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners
- Held many events to educate the public beginning with Occupy the Courts in 2012 and continued with events such as highly-attended presentations with speakers such as David Cobb
- Tabled at other events educating and collecting petition signatures (collected an impressive 3621)
- Lobbied in Raleigh on several occasions
- Held demonstrations at Courthouse and manned booths at Belle Cher’s annual events
- Attended the People’s Assembly Moral Mondays in Raleigh and Sponsored a Moral Monday in Asheville
- Lobbied in Raleigh twice for passage of the Resolution
- Sponsored a live performance of Granny D
Far-Western MTA a coalition of Occupy WNC and The Canary Coalition—Began January 2012.
- Far West MTA began with a demonstration, in 2012, of Occupy the Courts at the Federal Courthouse in Swain County where they performed their first MTA Theater.
- Excelled at getting their MTA-Facsimile Resolution passed by five town governments in Macon, Jackson and Swain Counties, plus by the Jackson County Commissioners
- Held street performances of two plays at Greening Up the Mountain and at other events
- Tabled with educational material and gathered petition signatures at several public events
- Sponsored a multi-venue Martin Luther King day in Bryson City (included MTA Timeline of Rights and Privileges)
- Performed the MTA Timeline of Rights and Privileges in three other venues
- Held three Meet and Greet events in Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties
- Lobbied in Raleigh and held press conferences in 2012 and 2014 for House and Senate bills introduced
- Published fourteen Far-Western Newsletters and distributed to all MTA petition signatories in North Carolina
- Attended monthly MTA Conference Calls
- Two members completed the MTA History of Corporate Control Educational Course
Charlotte Area Move to Amend (CAMTA)—Began in September 2013
- Founding members began their affiliation at a September National MTA Training session in Charlotte
- CAMTA efforts to attain MTA Resolution passage was not accepted by either Charlotte or Mecklenburg
- Focused on Voter Registration and used tabling and other events for gathering MTA petitions signatures
- Worked on Coalition Building in the Charlotte and Mecklenburg area
- Used Moral Movies to educate public and themselves
2014 National Affiliation Ended
The North Carolina MTA Affiliates realized that to meet the goal of the passage of the We the People Amendment, a more focused state level approach was needed. In the spring of 2014, to attain greater state autonomy, each Affiliate elected to end formal affiliation with the National MTA organization. The three former MTA affiliates began working with strategies that would be most effective in North Carolina.
In the Fall of 2015, the three affiliates formed the grassroots coalition officially known as the NC We the People Campaign.
The first NC We the People Resolution was sent to the House and Senate. The MTA resolution was modified replacing national terminology with state terminology. As before, House Representatives and Senators were asked to pass the non-binding resolution calling on the North Carolina General Assembly to petition the U. S. Congress to pass the We the People Amendment.
Much work was done to gain Primary and Co-sponsorship in House and Senate for the introduction of these resolutions in the General Assembly.
Handouts were developed and distributed, letters sent, calls made to representatives, lobbying efforts carried out at the Capital and press conferences organized and attended when the resolutions were introduced. The introduced resolutions were sent to the Rules Committee in both chambers where they languished — never to be sent to the floor of the General Assembly for a vote.
How Individual Coalitions Contributed to the NC We the People Campaign
The Far-West group
- Cory Lomax developed the web-site. The Far West coalition which pointedly chose the name “Corporations Ain’t People” was the initial financial backer for the web-site.
- Allen Lomax developed the NC We the People Campaign FACEBOOK page.
- Roger Deidrich (CAMTA) assisted Allen Lomax (CAMTA) in organizing a ten-week Letter to the Editor campaign. Over the ten weeks of the letter writing campaign, ten volunteers wrote a letter which was then distributed to 100 statewide city and county newspapers.
United to Restore Democracy (U2RD)
- Organized and held a well-attended press conference and rally at the Asheville Federal Courthouse to announce the formation of the NC We the People Campaign.
- U2RD also produced and performed street theater production at Pack Square with excellent costuming and effects. The production was well-attended and received good media coverage.
- U2RD also held events and attended other community events where members collected significant numbers of NC We the People petition signatures.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Move to Amend. (CMMTA)
- Continued voter registration and tabling for NC We the People petitions signatures.
- Planned and held a NC We the People Press Conferences at the Federal Courthouse in Charlotte.
2016, NC We the People Decided “It’s time to change our strategy!” We Need An Entirely New Approach!
A committee of representatives from each NC We the People coalition in partnership with the office of Representative Verla Insko, drafted a Referendum to be introduced in the General Assembly, which culminated in H453 and S354. Instead of asking legislators to vote on a Resolution to petition the US Congress, the new strategy takes the issue straight to the people of the state of North Carolina and gives voters a voice through the ballot. In North Carolina, in order for a measure to appear on the ballot, it must be approved by the General Assembly. Thus, efforts were put underway to bring the referendum to the General Assembly.
- Efforts by the coalition groups gained over thirty Endorsing Organizations in support of H453 and S3543 including six NAACP branches.
- NC We the People Campaign members contacted North Carolina General Assembly legislators and attained 18 Primary and Co-sponsors in the House and Senate.
- H453 and S354 were filed and introduced in the General Assembly. Both bills were buried by the Majority in Committees and never sent to the floor for a vote. Thus, both bills died at the closing of the 2018 General Assembly session.
In 2019, through the efforts of Avram Friedman, the Referendum was once again introduced in the 2019 General Assembly. Significantly, the total number of legislative Primary and Co-sponsors increased from 18 in the prior session, to 22–12 in the House and 10 in the Senate. Bills H512 and S339, as in the prior session were referred to committee. H512 has been referred to the Committee on Elections, Ethics and Law; S339 is now in the Committee on Rules and Operations.
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In 2020, North Carolina’s NC We the People’s Legislation—if passed, will make North Carolina the 19th State to join the other 18 States whose legislatures already have passed Resolutions toward a Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to Amend our Constitute to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”
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NC WE THE PEOPLE CAMPAIGN IS A GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION AND IS RUN 100% BY UNPAID VOLUNTEERS, AS SUCH THE CAMPAIGN RELIES ONLY UPON THE GENEROSITY OF DONORS TO COVER OPERATING COSTS.
NC WE THE PEOPLE IS GRATEFUL FOR SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL DONATIONS FROM NUMEROUS INDIVIDUAL DONORS AS WELL AS SUBSTANTIAL FOUNDING FUNDS FROM THREE ORGANIZATIONS
United to Restore Democracy—U2RD (Asheville Buncombe Area)
Occupy WNC—Coalition member of the Far-Western MTA Coalition,aka/ Corporations Ain’t People
The Durham Committee Against Corporate Personhood