MHP   |  March 30, 2014

Moral Monday spreading to Missouri?

Rev. Carl Kenney joins to discuss how the grassroots Moral Monday movement is possibly expanding into Missouri.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we've been keeping a close eye on the expansion of the ongoing grass roots moral mondays movement ever since its inception in april 2013 . you might remember back in june i spent some time down in north carolina with the leader of the movement, revenrend william barber . its plan to restrict voting rights , and jobless benefits. just a little more than a week ago, 39 people were arrested during georgia's moral mondays protest, which expanded to that state in january of this year. also in january, like moral mondays, truthful tuesday began in south carolina to bring attention to lawmakers promoting an extreme legislative agenda. the expanse of the state 's most vulnerable, children, the elderly and the poor. now in missouri , republican leaders are pushing legislation to increase waiting periods for abortions, implement voter i.d. laws, cut medicare, and get rid of federal gun control laws. my guest today is not having it. planning of a possible moral mondays missouri movement is happening next week. joining me from st. louis is one of the leaders and organizers of the moral mondays missouri possibility. university of missouri professor reverend karl w. kennedy ii, who is also a dear friend about whom i wrote in my first book. reverend kennedy , very nice to have you here today.

>> it's good to be present. first, let me thank you, congratulate you, james and parker on adding a bundle of joy to the nerd land family.

>> thank you, reverend kennedy . so look, i knew you during the time that we were both living in north carolina when i was in graduate school and actually attending your church. and i guess part of what i'm interested in is what is it you think that north carolina has to offer to missouri in terms of political organizing?

>> well, i think what's taking place across the country is this moral movement that congregations, everyone from anglican to atheist, baptist to buddhist are beginning to question extreme politics. i think north carolina offers some insight related to how to become a moral voice. in mouse, what we're doing is we're gathering this clergy to have conversations about what it would look like to have a movement that is structured under this principle of dignity. every human being deserves honor and respect, and what will happen on thursday is our semi -- our midterm dignity test. we're asking politicians whether or not they passed that dignity test, and what we're seeing in missouri is they're failing that test.

>> so why is the language of morality, ethics, dignity -- why is that the relevant language for the generation of the social movement rather than words like democrat, liberal, progressive?

>> well, i think that's taking place is this transcendent political parties . in missouri , it's not really about republican and democrat. it's about lobbyists, and lobbyists against everybody else. and so in missouri , it's the only state where there are no limits on lobbyists. there are no rules limiting campaign contributions. and we're discovering that the lobbyists are running amuck in our state , and therefore, the moral authority is needed. you know, our state motto is the welfare of the people is supreme law , and we're discovering that that's not the case in our state when it comes to medicaid expansion and when it comes to this proposal before the senate, senate bill 694 that will remove the cap on payday lending loans. and we're really troubled by that.

>> i want to listen to a bit of a conversation that i had with reverend barber last year in north carolina about why moral mondays is necessary and have you respond to that.

>> it was time to engage in a moral strategy that would shine the light on this extreme ideological regressive movement that's happening in our general assembly , and to stop it before it spreads even worse across the south.

>> so, reverend kennedy , he says the word "strategy." it seems to me that there is an actual training going on here. part of what i have claimed about moral mondays is it seems like an actual movement, not just a hashtag, but an actual movement. what kind of strategy is important for you all?

>> i think reverend barber would agree that every state has to have an indigenous strategy. they have to consider the culture and context of that community. we're engaging with reverend barber along with the businessdom of those across the country to help inform us on how we will develop a strategy that fits our particular state context. it is important that we do that. i also believe that it's important that there be some cohesion nationally. i think what will happen, missouri won't resemble north carolina 's moral monday. it will be a bit different based on our particular concerns in our community. but i do think that we have to claim some form of connection based on our outward cry, our national cry. to go back to some type of moral voice. we can't allow the extremes to define what it means to be moral people.

>> reverend carl kennedy , it is lovely to see you again. thank you for joining us this morning. that's our show for today. i have a little congratulations to send out. my husband's first mini triathlon this morning. see you soon when i get home. i'm going to see all of you in nerd land next saturday at 10:00 a.m . eastern. right now it is time for a preview of "weekends with alex witt ."

>> and a yea to james.