The Pride flag flies in uptown Charlotte. (Shutterstock) Charlotte Pride Parade
The Pride flag flies in uptown Charlotte. (Shutterstock)

Some of the key tenets of American democracy are under attack. From voting rights to reproductive rights, 2022 has been a perilous year for marginalized communities. But, there are several organizations right here in North Carolina that are working to make sure all of the state’s residents have access to their fundamental rights. 

Voting and reproductive rights have been at the center of American political discourse in recent years, with former President Donald’s Trump’s continued attacks on the 2020 election, and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade this past summer.

As a result, the rights of American citizens are in flux, leaving many worried about their freedoms.

For example, while abortion is still legal North Carolina, there is a 72-hour waiting period, a ban on telehealth appointments for those seeking medication abortions via pills, and laws banning certified nurse midwives, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners from performing abortions.

There are several organizations across the state of North Carolina that are dedicated to protecting and advancing these rights. Check them out below. 

ACLU of North Carolina 

Remember HB2 — North Carolina Republicans’ notorious, anti-LGBTQ “bathroom bill?” 

North Carolina’s chapter of the ACLU was one of the key players in the legal fight against that law, which was eventually repealed by the legislature but only after it cost the state billions in economic activity and an unquantifiable amount in reputation. 

That’s not all the ACLU, a longtime civil liberties protector, has been behind in NC. Established in 1965, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU of NC) has worked in courts, the General Assembly, and the state’s communities to protect and advance the civil rights and liberties of all who reside in the Tar Heel State. A state affiliate of the national organization, the ACLU of North Carolina has more than 30,000 members or supporters across the state. 

The organization prides itself on the following tenets: standing against racism and oppressive systems, centering dignity, respect, and compassion for all people, pursuing radical transparency in service of accountability, valuing and modeling equity, inclusivity, and grace, and striving for internal and community sustainability. 

The ACLU of North Carolina has a page on their website dedicated to the education of North Carolinians on their voting rights and threats against them. The same goes for reproductive rights

Common Cause North Carolina 

Common Cause North Carolina is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy.

Why is that so important right now? Because voting rights have a crucial concern in North Carolina for more than a decade.

Common Cause works to create an open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest and promotes equal rights. 

It also aims to promote opportunity and representation for all and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process. At Common Cause, organizers are working to keep elections free and fair, as well as defending voting rights and making ballot boxes more accessible. 

Democracy North Carolina

Democracy North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen Democratic structures, build power among disenfranchised communities, and inspire confidence in a transformed political process that works for all. 

On the organization’s website, you can learn all about how to get involved with protecting North Carolinians voting rights. You can tell lawmakers to support the Safeguard Fair Elections Act, which aims to prevent election subversion and is the first state bill in the United States to directly respond to the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. 

You can also “Vote No” to the Fayetteville campaign, which would change the structure of the city’s council and reduce the number of single-member districts, and thus dilute the Black voting power in the city. You can also check out this statement on how reproductive rights are fundamentally tied to voter freedoms. 

North Carolina Rural Center 

About 78 of NC’s 100 counties could be considered “rural.” Yet, these are the counties that lag their urban peers in power and influence.

The North Carolina Rural Center is a nonprofit organization based in Raleigh, which aims to improve the quality of life for those living in the state’s rural areas

How do they do that? By advocating for rural communities at the legislature, investing in small-business development, and training rural leaders.

The center works to ensure that the voices and votes of rural North Carolina residents are heard, and aims to advance public policy on behalf of these people. In an effort to build thriving rural communities, the North Carolina Rural Center hinges on the inclusivity of diverse rural perspectives

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic 

For more than a century, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic has been a resource for men, women, and young people seeking accessible and affordable quality healthcare, accurate information, and comprehensive health education. 

The organization is a nonprofit health care provider that offers a wide range of affordable and reliable reproductive and sexual health care services across 14 locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

These clinics offer abortion services, birth control, emergency contraception, gender-affirming hormone therapy, gynecological wellness visits, HIV services, and more. 

Women North Carolina 

Women North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that trains college and university students to engage in rigorous research, public policy formulation, and advocacy to improve the lives of women and girls across the state.

It’s as timely as ever.

The organization is dedicated to advancing gender equity in North Carolina by facilitating conversations with leaders and advocates to better inform the community on issues that concern them. 

Women North Carolina also works with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women to move cities and municipalities to become sites of gender inclusivity. 

You Can Vote 

You Can Vote is a nonpartisan campaign dedicated to increasing voter participation and turnout for people facing barriers to full civic participation, such as women, people of color, or those with disabilities.

The org trains and then mobilizes volunteers to educate, register, and empower all North Carolina citizens to cast their ballots. Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, a student voting for the first time, or someone who has spent time in jail, there are resources available to you through You Can Vote.