North Carolina Central University was the back-drop for the unveiling of a new flavor of ice cream by Ben and Jerry’s. It’s called “Empower Mint.”
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield stood side-by-side with North Carolina NAACP’s the Reverend William Barber to reveal the new flavor, with a voting rights theme.
Barber led the crowd in a chant: “Vote, Empower Mint! March, Empower Mint!”
The state NAACP is appealing an earlier court’s decision that upheld North Carolina’s controversial voter ID law. That’s why Ben and Jerry say they’re here.
Cohen says North Carolina has one of the strictest voting laws in the country.
“So why should an ice cream company care about this stuff? Why should anybody speak out if somebody else is getting screwed? Because it isn’t just. It isn’t fair. It isn’t moral," Cohen said to a cheering crowd.
"So I’m glad that year’s ago, we had to sit down at the counter to try to get ice cream, but now ice cream has come to us to help us counter all this oppression that’s going on!" said Barber, referring to Durham's Royal Ice Cream sit-in. In 1957, a local African American minister and a group of young people were arrested for sitting in the "white's only" section of the parlor. The protest led to the 1960 Greensboro sit-in.
“Ben and Jerry’s is at its best when it uses its voice to talk about injustice and it’s also smart enough to partner with local groups on the ground who are actually doing the work," said Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's.
Greenfield said they are partnering with several groups in North Carolina to fight voter suppression, including the NC NAACP, NCPIRG and Common Cause.
Robin Carter of Asheville enjoyed her sampling of “Empower Mint” at the rally.
“One of my favorite flavors of ice cream is mint, so chocolate mint, I feel empowered," said Carter.