The Inspiring Sight Of The Moral March: One Reporter’s Firsthand Experience
Following a series of protests over the summer known as the, “Moral Monday” movement, February 8th marked a fusion of Moral Monday and HKonJ to create a Moral March on downtown Raleigh. I found parking near the Convention Center and made my way on foot to the protest a little after nine in the morning.
What I expected to be a handful of protesters turned out to be a mass of over eighty thousand people gathered around Harrison and Wilmington. I could hear a speaker on a podium somewhere toward the middle of the crowd. Along with the uplifting words of tearing down corruption and making the government listen to the everyday worker, there were prayers and talk of religion to inspire the people. It always strikes me as an important movement when people of different religions come together for one cause. There was no time to take it all in. I was there as a reporter after all.
Time to get to the interviews. As I walked down Wilmington street I saw many a creative sign held up high in protest of one thing or another. This annual march used to be held by the NAACP, but it seemed that many other causes lent their numbers to a growing movement. My first interview was a young man who went by Dereck from Toronto who was there aiding a group called The Socialist Workers. He said that they had chapters across the country and when he found a group he would join them for a march. When I asked what he hoped to accomplish by being here, his answer inspired: “I’d like to be a part of something that changes history, especially North Carolina History.”
This was my first time as a reporter, and I found it hard to strike up a conversation sometimes. A few groups were suspicious of me because I was wearing a dress shirt and tie.
Luckily the funny looks were outweighed by the greetings and people glad I was taking the time to help out. I tried to talk to someone at a table handing out pink stickers supporting Planned Parenthood.
When I asked for an interview I was directed to another area a little further from the crowd. I spoke briefly with Allison Kaiser, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina.
I asked her what she hoped to see accomplished here today, and her response was a powerful one. “I think that today we just want to make a very strong statement that the North Carolina legislature can’t be taking us backwards on every issue [regarding] Women’s Health, which was attacked repeatedly during the last session through numerous sneak attacks to voting rights to public education. Their regressive policies are really taking North Carolina in the wrong direction. We want to demonstrate that people are paying attention. They care about the issues and we are here to prove it.”
It was then I noticed the march had begun. Large groups of people traveled north on Wilmington street and turned to the left to enter Fayetteville street. I was walking along the sidewalk trying to catch up.
There stood a single counter-protester wearing some sort of burlap sack and a horn on a string. Part of his sign read: The End Is Coming. The word “coming” was scratched out and replaced by the word “Here.”
I didn’t bother to talk to him since everyone else seemed pretty upset by his presence. I honestly have no idea what he was trying to say and after my experience protesting the WBC, I learned that the general public would rather ignore them than give them attention.
Onward to the Capital Building.
As I walked up Fayetteville Street, I saw a bunch of large TV screens set up with speakers so those further back from the stands could still hear what was being said. I made my way north to get a look at the main attraction.
There were numerous speakers lined up, ranging from preachers to college students, and speaking on a wide range of causes.
I remember looking up and seeing people in the parking deck looking out over the crowd. I was reminded of the story of Zacharias from the Old Testament and his desire to see over the crowd.
I made my way back to Wilmington street to see if I could talk to anyone else. I was shocked to see people still filing onto Fayetteville Street. I met a group wearing matching yellow shirts and gave my last interview of the day. The organization is called Standing on the Side of Love, represented by the UU or Unitarian Universalist. Michelle from Michigan was kind enough to give me this quote when I asked what she hoped to see upon coming to the protest. “I’m here for the companionship and fellowship and standing up for what’s right. I want things to be “For the people.'”
Of course there were so many groups it was hard to get a word in edge wide.
My favorite group name was the Raging Grannies, who brought their own signs and a ton of heart.
As I got back in my car, I couldn’t help but tip my hat to all the brave men and women who showed up in the cold weather to march for something they believe in and I look forward to taking part in more of these in the future.
For Candid Slice, this is Headphone Mike signing off.