Concerned citizens listen to speakers about continued poverty concerns in the state
The Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty in North Carolina
organized by the NAACP, the NC Justice Center, and the UNC Center on Poverty Work and Opportunity, on January 19 and 20 visited
six counties in North Eastern North Carolina to hear from some of the most
excluded and exploited residents of North Carolina about their experience of
poverty. Story after story revealed the truth that poverty is not an
individual or personal problem, does not result from laziness or personal
morality, but too often results from specific government action or
inaction. The most recurring problems we heard were issues the UNC Center
for Civil Rights focuses on - manifestations of community exclusion, including lack
of access to water and sewer, segregated and underfunded schools, and unreasonably
high electric bills.
Four out of the six towns visited, Washington, Elizabeth
City, Scotland Neck, and Rocky Mount, are municipal power providers, part of
the 32 Eastern North Carolina Cities in ElectriCities. Residents of these
towns and the surrounding areas testified to astounding electric bills, all
over $300 a month, some as high as $1300 a month. One young single
mother, living in a subsidized one bedroom apartment with $175 a month rent,
spoke of electric bills averaging $330 a month. Her monthly fixed income
is less than $600 a month. Since 2010, the UNC Center for Civil Rights
has studied the issue and met with residents organizing around these excessive
rates in Rocky Mount and other cities.
At the Scotland Neck stop, Peter Gilbert, the Center’s
Community Inclusion Attorney-Fellow, spoke about the Center’s work in Halifax
County - environmental justice and exclusion issues in Lincoln Heights, access
to political voice and justice for the residents of Brandy Creek, and most
importantly the perpetuation of three racially segregated school
districts. Halifax County maintains three districts, two of which are
nearly entirely African-American and are do not meet the minimum state
constitutional requirements for a sound basic education. The Roanoke
Rapids city school district is maintained as a 70% white enclave school
district; district lines are drawn to exclude black city residents but include
white students who live outside the city. Learn more about education in Halifax county and read the Center's report, The State of Education in Halifax County.
The Center applauds the work of the NAACP, the UNC Center on
Poverty Work and Opportunity, and the NC Justice Center for raising these
issues to the public spotlight. We look forward to continuing to support
future legs of the tour.
Visit @ncjustice and @truthandhopenc on Twitter for live tweets, pictures, and more information about the Truth and Poverty Tour. More pictures are available on the Tour's Flickr page.
News coverage of the Tour:
Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Wed. January 25, 2012 2:07 PM
Annexation, Community Inclusion, Education, Environmental Justice, Halifax County, Heirs' Property, Segregation