Local activists join massive march on Raleigh

Feb. 07, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

When the N.C. General Assembly was in session this summer, liberal protestors organized large events called Moral Mondays. Now the legislature is gone, but protests in downtown Raleigh against the Republican-led state government haven’t stopped.

This Saturday will play host to the Moral March on Raleigh HKonJ People’s Assembly, with the HKonJ standing for Historic Thousands on Jones Street — the street on which the General Assembly is located. The march was started in 2006 by the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and now includes more than 150 other partner organizations, according to the event’s Facebook page — on which more than 3,500 people have said they will or might attend and another 26,700 have been invited.

“We are calling on all people of conscience and concern to join us as we stand against the extreme and regressive agenda being pushed in North Carolina,” the invitation states. “This agenda is a reflection of what is happening across the United States.”

Local activists have organized transportation for dozens of people to the march, which will begin on Wilmington Street next to the campus of Shaw University at 9:30 a.m., with the march itself starting at 10:30 a.m.

The Lee County NAACP will have two passenger vans and a bus running between Sanford and Raleigh for the march, which organizers say will end just after noon. To get a seat on any of the vehicles, call NAACP President Ervin Fox at (919) 478-1664. The two vans are free and will leave at 7:30 a.m. from Blandonia Presbyterian Church at 605 Wall St. The bus will cost $5 to ride and will leave at 8:30 a.m. from First Calvary Baptist Church at 240 Fields Drive.

The march is officially endorsed by the state Democratic Party. Randy Voller, the state party chair and former mayor of Pittsboro, said in a written statement that HKonJ is “an important reminder as to what matters most to the people of North Carolina: economic prosperity for our working and middle class families, quality public education for our children and access to voting for all North Carolinians.”

Rep. Robert Reives II, the only local Democratic representative in state government — he represents all of Chatham County and parts of Lee County, having been recently selected to replace former Rep. Deb McManus after her resignation — said he will be among the thousands marching on Saturday.

Reives, a Sanford attorney, touted his belief in many of the same progressive ideals espoused by the march’s organizers when he was campaigning in December and January to be appointed to the legislature on an interim basis. He also said he’s glad to see a great number of people exercising some of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“Everybody’s got a right to assemble,” he said. “I have a great respect for that Constitutional right.”

There are reportedly no plans for civil disobedience during this march — as opposed to the Moral Monday protests, where hundreds of people were intentionally arrested.

Voller said this Saturday’s march will be a protest “like no other.” Ann McCracken, chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party, said she’s glad to have heard lots of interest from locals about attending — especially because earlier this week she heard from several of the organizers and was impressed.

“I attended a briefing about the march at Martin Street Baptist Church (Monday) to hear Bob Hall of Democracy N.C., Tim Tyson, Jarvis Hall, Gene Nichol, the Rev. (William) Barber, and many others discuss the reasons for the the Forward Together Movement and the HKonJ or Moral March,” she wrote in an email. “I had heard most of them last summer, but it was very inspiring to have all of them in the same room. The march promises to be huge.”