Southerners To Know: Debbie Dobbins-Liebers and July Lowe

Southerners To Know: Debbie Dobbins-Liebers and July Lowe

As you know we try to highlight different southerners who are working to help create a more positive culture here, one where the rights of all are protected.  Such people try to help resist falling into the trap of what I call “slaveholder Christianity”, which turns faith into an excuse to oppress others.

Today I want highlight two ladies who live in Fayetteville, NC, the same town the church I pastor is.   These two ladies are a constant voice for justice, understanding, and compassion in our city.  I met them when my church joined the local GLBT Alliance in town in speaking up against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the days that led to its repeal.  They, like me, were straight allies busy speaking up for its repeal and, later, celebrating its repeal with us.   They have been involved in speaking up against policies in our state that promote racial discrimination.  They are key leaders in the fight for women’s rights in our city.  They are a part of an active peace movement, which is a courageous thing in the military town where we live.  They also are devoted to their families, and to their personal faith.

I’d like to thank both Debbie Dobbins-Liebers and July Lowe for their willingness to stand for justice at a time our state has become a place where it is a rarer commodity each day.  Thank  you for helping use your voice to yet again raise awareness about the injustices going on on in our community.  Thank you for working to make our community a better place for all God’s children.

And I’m not just whistling Dixie here,

your progressive redneck preacher,


Taken from Fayetteville Observer-Times (

Op-Ed: Liebers and Lowe – Why we chose arrest at ‘Moral Monday’


Debbie Dobbins Liebers and Judy Buchmiller Lowe participate in a Moral Monday protest.

By Debbie Dobbins Liebers and Judy Buchmiller Lowe

Why did we get arrested at the “Moral Monday” protest on Monday? Let us count (some of) the reasons:

Between us, we’ve put in almost a hundred years of living in North Carolina. Four generations of Lieberses and Lowes now reside here. It’s our home. And the legislature in Raleigh seems determined to wreck it.

Between us, we have four kids in public schools here in Fayetteville. And we’ve been shocked by the way our public school systems are being decimated – with more cuts on the way.

Our families have also made use of the public health system. The wholesale assaults on Medicaid and other health programs could affect us, along with hundreds of thousands of others.

And coming right down the pike at the end of this month is a cutoff in unemployment benefits. That’s outrageous, when the May unemployment rate in Cumberland County was over 9 percent, and in Robeson County almost 12. How many more families will lose their homes or end up on food stamps?

More than 100,000 unemployed Carolinians and their families will feel this heartless pinch. (But the rate in Wake County last month was only 6.6 percent, so maybe they’re not feeling any pain around the Capitol.)

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed vacation trips to the Carolina beaches and the Outer Banks. We’re worried about their vulnerability to climate change and rough weather. Now the legislature plans to open them up to destructive kinds of development that will hasten their decline.

There’s so much more: voter suppression, attacks on Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights, regressive tax plans that will hurt the poor, fracking, even talk of setting up an official state religion. Where will it end?

And one of the most upsetting things to us is that while all this is happening, too many folks aren’t paying attention. Evidently they think it’s just the political circus as usual.

But it’s not. The current legislature’s recklessness is a threat to our future, and that of our children and grandchildren.

Somebody has to raise the alarm. So when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organized the Moral Mondays protests, we were happy to answer the call.

It wasn’t an easy decision. Neither of us had ever been arrested. We obey the law and teach our children to obey it, too.

But we’ve also been activists on behalf of what we think is right for our state and our country, going back as far as the civil rights movement. And we remember when Dr. Martin Luther King said that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

This spring, the irresponsible North Carolina legislature has created one of those times. We had been in legal protests before. But they didn’t seem to make a dent.

So last Monday, we stepped up and took our stand.

We want to say thank you to the Capitol and Raleigh police officers who arrested us. They were courteous and professional throughout.

But even so, the plastic handcuffs hurt our wrists. Riding on a gritty inmate bus and sitting in a holding cell with only one open toilet was not exactly fun. Having to wait until after midnight to get bailed out was tedious. We were definitely outside our comfort zone.

But if it helped bring some more attention to the damage being done by a rampaging legislature, then it was worth the sore wrists and the long wait.

There will be more Moral Monday protests before the current legislative session wraps up. And we’re committed to working to make this campaign “a movement, not just a moment,” to carry the message as broadly across the state as we can.

This extremist-dominated legislature has put North Carolina out front in a race to the bottom in education, health care, environmental safety, racial progress and so much more.

It won’t be easy to reverse this shameful slide. But last Monday, we joined hundreds of others who took a step toward returning pride and progress to North Carolina. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

Yours do, too.

Debbie Dobbins Liebers and Judy Buchmiller Lowe live in Fayetteville.


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