Our Basic Human Rights: On the Line

Our ideals of freedom, humanity, and justice are in jeopardy … here in the 21st century, in North Carolina and across the United States. For generations, people from a broad spectrum of cultural backgrounds, ages, belief systems, income levels, genders, and abilities have been struggling to build a moral and thriving nation.

The challenge before us now is the fight for our basic human rights. I personally accept this challenge, and as your State Representative I will persist in rising up and speaking out on behalf of you, my constituents and the greater community.

In my lifetime, we as a nation have rejoiced in many achievements. The Brown v. Board of Education decision led to the desegregation of public schools. Rosa Parks sat down in the white section of a bus, sparking a 13-month bus boycott that resulted in desegregation of public transportation. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act was enacted to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. 

By 1973 women finally gained control over their own bodies and reproductive rights with the Roe v. Wade decision. We made further advancements in science and in 1985 discovered the first hole in the ozone layer, caused by pollution, and that led to the Montreal Protocol of 1987.

The election of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States in 2008 and his reelection in 2012 signified a remarkable change in American society and politics. In 2015 we achieved marriage equality, giving due respect to our LGBTQ+ community. Then in 2020, Kamala Harris became the first woman to win election as Vice President of the United States.

My first term in office as Representative for NC House District 50 began on January 1, 2023, and since then I have witnessed the passage of many pieces of legislation that, by the will of the majority party, has set North Carolina backward in time at least 70 years. For example:

  • Public schools are in a crisis due to underfunding and face resegregation based on race, ethnicity, and class, while $618 million has been appropriated for private school vouchers.
  • Voting rights, particularly for African Americans, are under threat as changes in election laws easily could lead to voter intimidation.
  • The right to representation is almost nonexistent due to extreme gerrymandering.
  • Women have been stripped of our rights by laws limiting abortions and reproductive health care.
  • Delicate ecosystems are at risk due to a farm bill that fails to protect North Carolina’s wetlands.
That said, we made some gains in 2023, including Medicaid expansion for more than 600,000 North Carolinians who previously had no access to affordable health care. We also passed a law that allows military relocation licenses for physician and physician assistant service members and spouses, so they may continue to practice upon relocation to North Carolina.

Looking forward, we must strive diligently to course-correct and then to advance with dynamic momentum. Our basic human rights came with too much pain and suffering, too much bloodshed, and too much sacrifice for us to allow anyone to deny us, to disrespect us, or to disenfranchise us now. We must secure the foundation for the evolution of our society and ensure a future for generations to come.  

I enjoy my role as your State Representative and am inspired by my experiences with you as well as with my elected colleagues. We have a responsibility to protect and defend our democracy. May we remain optimistic and focused on the vision of freedom, humanity, and justice for all people.

— Renée Price

Renée's Priorities

A Sound Basic Education


As my father told me, "Knowledge is the one thing they can't take away from you." My mother said, "You can do whatever you set your mind to doing."

Learning begins at birth. Every child should have access to early childcare services, and every child should have the opportunity to reap the benefits of pre-K schooling. For students who are gifted or with special needs, options should be available for them to progress at their own pace and according to their own metrics.

High schools and community colleges also play critical roles in transforming teenage and young adult lives and advancing careers and professions. Along with predominantly white institutions of higher learning. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue to provide pathways to success.

In 1997 the North Carolina Supreme Court determined in the Leandro case that every child is entitled to a sound basic education. Leandro is evidence that we need to take critical steps to improve learning environments across North Carolina.

People need a firm foundation and specific tools to thrive in a multidimensional 21st-century society — whether they choose a career in the health sciences or in the creative arts. The duty of elected leaders and community members, therefore, is to eliminate the achievement gaps among our students and address the disparities within our education system by investing in our children.

The Right to Vote


The right to vote in fair and free elections is perhaps the most important element of a democracy. Access to the ballot also must extend to adult Americans of every race, ethnicity, sex, gender, creed, and socioeconomic status.

The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1870, acknowledged the right to vote for African American men. In 1920 the 19th Amendment at long last gave women the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 guaranteed access to the ballot for African American women and men, particularly in southern states.

These acts give due respect to our individual rights as first-class citizens. Our foremothers and forefathers fought, bled, and died in valiant efforts to claim the right to vote for themselves and for us. In no way can we let their efforts be in vain. 

In North Carolina, efforts are underway to suppress the vote and to disenfranchise eligible voters. Our current political district maps demonstrate a clear case of partisan gerrymandering and, as one court said, were drawn “with surgical precision” to create a grave imbalance in our representation in the NC General Assembly and in the US House of Representatives. In addition, recent legislation grants poll observers permission to listen in on conversations between voters and election workers.

As the District 50 Representative in the NC House, I will rise up, speak out, and — in the words of the late US Representative and civil rights leader John R. Lewis — “get in good trouble” to protect and ensure our right to vote and our right to representation.

Criminal Justice Reform


The criminal justice system throughout North Carolina and across the United States is in dire need of reform. Many of our laws, policies, and procedures are founded on racial and ethnic discrimination, sex and gender prejudice, and socioeconomic classism. I am dismayed and appalled with the lack of fairness in our criminal justice system. 

According to NAMI, approximately two in five incarcerated people have a history of mental illness — with 37% in state and federal prisons and 44% in local detention centers. Seven in ten of our youth in the juvenile justice system are experiencing a mental health condition. Our prisons and detention centers have become de facto mental health institutions.

In 2020 the Task Force for Racial Equity and Criminal Justice (TREC), appointed by Governor Roy Cooper, released a report with 125 recommendations for corrective action in our criminal justice system. These recommendations should be analyzed and, where appropriate, implemented to address policies and procedures that disproportionately affect communities of color and thus ensure racial equity.

I have been collaborating with organizations and stakeholder groups from diverse disciplines for many years in the effort to bring about needed changes regarding law enforcement, the courts, corrections, and reentry. Among the issues are:

• keeping mental health out of our jails, prisons, and detention centers
• the adverse mental health effects of solitary confinement
• better pay and skills training for public safety workers
• mentoring programs for justice-involved youth
• funding for local reentry councils and programming

Now, as a member of the NC House and the Bipartisan Safety and Criminal Justice Caucus, I continue to engage in ongoing discussions with colleagues and constituents on various aspects of criminal justice reform. My focus will be legislation that promotes unbiased, equitable, and nurturing communities and social infrastructures.

Climate Action and Environmental Justice


Climate change is real, and while it is inevitable, we can work to reduce the impact of our activities on the precious natural resources and ecosystems that support human life. As humans we are part of the environment, and we have a responsibility to steward the water, air, land, minerals, plants, and living creatures on this planet.

Individually and collectively, we can take steps to promote actions that will mitigate the adverse effects of global warming. Our policies and programs, whether big or small, affect the health and well-being of communities downstream from us as well as across the ocean.

Environmental justice is also of great concern to me. For generations, historically marginalized communities, indigenous populations, and low-wealth households have suffered the deleterious brunt of urbanization, rural development, and modern industrialization. I therefore will continue to urge investment of government funding for remedial actions and reparations to vulnerable populations harmed by human activity in the environment. 

As we move to protect our wetlands and air quality, we need to be inclusive of all people in our state and be aware of the diversity of livelihoods, cultures, and socioeconomic status. Environmental laws and regulations must therefore factor in feasibility and affordability if we are to succeed in our efforts.

My professional career has focused on urban and rural planning, land use, natural resource conservation, and sustainable agriculture and forestry. As a member of the NC House, I remain a strong advocate for legislation and funding that incentivizes and supports climate change mitigation and environmental justice.

Infrastructure for a Robust Economy


In municipalities and counties across North Carolina, efforts are underway for constructing and maintaining the infrastructure necessary for a robust 21st-century economy. In recent years, broadband and internet access have become priority issues across rural and urban America. The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the need to expand the digital highway to all households and businesses now that broadband is essential for schoolwork, employment, commerce, telehealth, and access to social services. 

Domestic and global industries — including agriculture, technology, manufacturing, health sciences, and clean energy — are interested in locating and expanding here. These business hubs require reliable transportation networks for employees and also for moving products and parts. State government, in partnership with local and federal governments, should be investing in multimodal byways, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, van services, and last-mile transport. 

Decent and affordable housing for individuals and families of all income brackets is a major component of a vibrant community. Teachers, nurses, healthcare practitioners, first responders, police officers, lab technicians, daycare assistants, and all members of our workforce should be able live in secure homes in safe neighborhoods and spaces.

In my role in the NC House, I continually advocate for universal broadband, multimodal transportation, and workforce / affordable housing. I will seek to open doors for the people of Orange and Caswell counties so they may have access to career-oriented jobs, opportunities for rural economic development, and the economic wealth of this state.

Health Care and Human Services


Access to health care and social services should be a basic human rightin our modern world.

• No child should go to school hungry.
• No woman should be deprived of her right to confidential health and medical services.
• No man with [dis]abilities should be denied opportunities to live a productive life.
• No individual should be rejected from insurance or treatment due to a preexisting condition.
• No family should experience homelessness.

The stress and trauma from daily life situations — poverty, gentrification, pollution, disease, racism, sexism, inflation, and job loss — are wreaking havoc for many of our friends and neighbors. Policies and budget appropriations should address our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being, which are under constant stress and trauma.

For the public good, our state government, in coordination with our counties and municipalities, should invest further in the delivery of public health and human services. In the NC House, my aim is to ensure that the women, men, and children in Caswell and Orange counties have the fundamental health and human services they need to thrive and be well.