My First Protest: Moral Monday, Raleigh, NC
Even though I grew up in the 60s and 70s, I had never attended a demonstration of any kind! I am 62 years old! I always did what I was supposed to do and was taught not to make waves or cause trouble.
The demonstrations in the 60’s and 70’s were sometimes peaceful, sometimes not so peaceful and about everything from racism to the Viet Nam War. So I was a little anxious to find myself volunteering to photograph the last Moral Monday here in Raleigh, NC.
I knew in my head there had been plenty of peaceful protests over the years, but the ones that always stood out in my mind were the Viet Nam War protests, Kent State, the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., (I know his assassination was not at a protest) where people were angry, protested with screams and ugly signs, shouting ugly names against their “enemy.”
People wearing red T-shirts passed by
So with these thoughts in mind, I parked my car in front of the capital building and saw a large group of people wearing red tee shirts with NCAE on them. Well, I wasn’t sure who they were but they were heading in the right direction with signs protesting the education budget cuts. Then on a balloon I saw that NCAE stands for North Carolina American Educators, Inc. As we walked, more and more people in red tee shirts joined, each carrying a red balloon.
Then they started chanting. “Forward together. Not one step back.”
A sign of perseverance and determination to succeed. I felt an interest and support for these people making a stand for our children, their teachers and the right to vote, and other freedoms affected by the present legislature’s decisions.
“The people, united, will not be divided.”
A man with a megaphone lead the group further away from the capital building with the resounding phrase, “The People, united, will not be divided.” I found myself speaking the words with feeling, proud to be a part of this group. We walked down the courtyard in front of the History Museum and the Science Museum. People standing or sitting along the sides waved and smiled.
The General Assembly Legislative Building loomed before us.
Then we crossed the street. The General Assembly Legislative Building loomed before us. We walked under its tall ceiling and beautifully designed protective walls. On the far side of this building was a bridge which crossed over to Hallifax Mall. When I first heard this event was going to take place in a mall… well, you can imagine my relief that the mall was the large green grassy kind.
A building whose walls bore appropriate quotes
- “Just what do these writer/teachers aim to impart to their students?”
- “I just try to stand out of their light.”
- “Love worked where discipline failed.”
- “You are a child, you are suited to be awed.”
- “By example, almost never by words.”
“Learning in old age is writing on sand. But learning in youth is engraving on stone.”
At first, I thought, attendance for Moral Monday was not going to be so good. Fifteen-thirty minutes later, I saw how wrong I was! The numbers had swelled to pack the mall except for the roped off area for the speakers. Adults, children, adults with babies, teenagers, people of many races, joining together in one body and one force to support the cause of education, showing their displeasure with the decisions being made.
What a wonderful country we live in
What a wonderful country we live in that we can have demonstrations like Moral Monday. I remembered hearing of the protests in China and other countries, where protesters were forbidden to gather, killed, tear gassed, shot at. We can gather thousands of people peacefully and sing, chant, march and make ourselves heard and peace can be sustained! I am proud to be an American! As music was played and voices rose and fell, giving directions, instilling a sense of urgency in the air, I felt proud to be there, doing what I do best: recording verbally and in photos, the events that will go down in history as the last Moral Monday in Raleigh 2013.
More Moral Mondays?
However, there will be more Moral Mondays. Rev. Barber announced, “We are not ending Moral Monday. We are suspending it here and taking it on the road.” The next Moral Monday will be in Asheville. There will 13 rallies in the 13 districts of the 13 congressmen on August 28, the 50th anniversary of “The March on Washington.”
I was there!
I lingered a little longer, thinking how glad I was to have been here to experience this event of our state’s history. I was there! No, I did not choose to go to jail. My calling is to share a story through my words and my photographs. Those who went to jail for these Moral Monday causes have my utmost respect. Not everyone is willing to go to jail, even to be “processed” and charged with civil disobedience for something they believe in!