Broader issues include economic matters such as living wages, tax reforms and labor rights; educational quality, including staying true to the state constitutional requirement of a sound, basic education for all students; and health care for all.
"What we have seen in North Carolina over the last year is a very regressive posture when you take in those areas," Barber said. " ... When you go backward on civil rights, you don't hurt just African-Americans."
Other major non-political stories in North Carolina in 2012:
— In the arts, "Hunger Games" came to the big screen, bringing visitors hungry to learn about a post-apocalyptic-world to North Carolina's mountains to see where Katniss, Peeta and Gale fought for their lives. And "Iron Man 3," starring Robert Downey Jr., brought its $200 million budget to the Wilmington area.
— In December, Duke Energy formalized deals that ended separate investigations by North Carolina regulators and the attorney general into whether the utility misled officials before a merger that made it the country's largest electric company. Duke Energy shocked investors and consumers just hours after the merger closed July 2 by firing Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson, who for a year and a half had been promised the job heading the combined company. The surprise CEO switch prompted shareholder lawsuits, led to consumers accusing the state regulator of being duped, and drove down Duke Energy's stock price
— UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Holden Thorp announced his resignation effective in June after dealing with a series of athletic, academic and financial scandals over the past two years. The NCAA imposed a one-year ban from postseason play, 15 forfeited scholarships and other penalties on the football team. But the probe also found academic fraud. Matt Kupec, the school's vice chancellor for advancement, and his girlfriend and fellow UNC employee Tami Hansbrough resigned fundraising jobs after questions about spending on trips they took, including some to watch Hansbrough's younger son Ben play basketball for Notre Dame in 2011.
— And Paula Broadwell of Charlotte became a household name after her affair with retired Gen. David Petraeus led him to resign as CIA director.