North Carolina’s most celebrated writers and artists have found a singular way to mark Gov. Pat McCrory’s 60th birthday on Monday – with a full-page newspaper ad.
“HB2 U, Pat,” reads a headline on the ad in Monday’s News & Observer of Raleigh.
Underneath is a picture of a slice of multi-layered cake, in the rainbow colors of the LGBT movement.
“Governor McCrory, we send you best wishes today,” the ad says. “But the real celebration will begin Nov. 8 when North Carolina votes to move in a more progressive direction.”
The ad, by “Writers for a Progressive North Carolina,” goes on to urge the repeal of HB2, the law that nullified a Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance and requires transgender people to use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.
“I hope it will have a galvanizing effect as a conversation piece and let the people know that the artists of North Carolina are not in their ivory tower,” writer Allan Gurganus said Sunday. “And this does not represent the North Carolina that we know and write about.”
The group was sponsored by dozens of writers, poets and songwriters including Clyde Edgerton, Jill McCorkle, Ron Rash, Lee Smith, Bland Simpson, Judy Goldman and Charles Frazier.
Gurganus said author John Grisham, who lives in Chapel Hill, donated signed first editions to help raise money for the ad. And songwriter James Taylor donated a signed guitar.
The ad was designed free of charge by Charlotte’s BooneOakley.
McCrory, who signed the law in March, has said it’s designed to protect an individual’s privacy and safety. He has blamed Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Charlotte City Council for overreaching with a February ordinance he said would have put an undue burden on private business.
Monday’s ad isn’t the writers’ first foray into politics this year.
In March they gathered on the grounds of the state Capitol, where they criticized policies of the Republican-controlled General Assembly. University of North Carolina professor Hodding Carter, a former official of Democrat Jimmy Carter’s administration, bemoaned what he called “the sad tale of recklessness, rapaciousness and cruelty.”
In July, they hosted a fundraiser for McCrory’s opponent, Democrat Roy Cooper.
Gurganus decried the policies that he said have damaged the state’s reputation.
“It’s a terrible u-turn for a state known as the most progressive in the South,” he said. “It’s so painful to do readings in New York and for people to stand up and say ‘What’s wrong with your state?’ ”