Marching into history

Charlie Van Der Horst and I danced onstage as Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" played.

The Moral March on Raleigh was historic.  Between 80,000 and 100,000 came from across the state and from across the nation to protest the radical agenda that is decimating our public education system and shredding the social safety net.

I don’t doubt the crowd estimate because police told us each block holds 15,000 to 20,000 people and we filled up five blocks, with a large number of people unable to even get onto Fayetteville Street.

More than 100 buses came, including five from Asheville.

Last year’s event saw about 12,000 people; this one was, as the Raleigh News & Observer said, “mammoth.”

Charlie Van Der Horst, Nicole Dozier and I were there to speak out against the refusal of our legislature to expand Medicaid. Charlie is a physician and professor at University of NC at Chapel Hill and Nicole is a policy analyst at the NC Justice Center.

Other speakers talked about marriage equality, reproductive rights for women, workers’ rights, poverty, unemployment insurance and jobs, education, the environment and more.

Most of the national media ignored this huge rally for social and economic justice in North Carolina. Talking Points Memo called it “the biggest march you never heard of.”

But those of us who were there were fired up even before Rev. William Barber took the stage to deliver a fiery sermon about caring for “the least of these,” as Jesus called the poor and the marginalized.

As usual, he reiterated that this is not about conservative or liberal; it’s not about Democrats or Republicans. These rallies began eight years ago, before the Republicans took the majority in the legislature. This movement is about right versus wrong; it’s about the morality of leaving people behind instead of lifting them up. This is about greed and lust for power.

The high point of the day was just after we sang, “We Shall Overcome.” Rev. Barber started to speak again and the sun burst through the clouds.

“The sun is out! Even the Universe is blessing us!” Rev. Barber said to deafening cheers.

Although Rev. Barber is a Christian, members of several faiths — and people who claim no faith but who are guided by justice and morality — have embraced this movement, and it is spreading. Georgia and Florida have started Moral Monday movements.

This rally is just the beginning, though. It must be followed up with a mobilization of voters. All we need do is carry around some voter registration forms, which you can pick up at your county Board of Elections office.

Then, ask people if they are registered to vote. If not, offer to help them register and hand them a form, then take the form and drop it off at the Board of Elections office.

We are out to change the political landscape from one of deprivation for the poor to one of lifting everyone up. We can do this.


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