On February 14th, more than a thousand citizens gathered at Chavis Park to march to the Legislature Building. The 3rd annual “Historic Thousands on Jones Street” march brought together a diverse group of organizations to promote a diverse 14-point agenda.
Minister Curtis Gatewood enthusiastically lead the march down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, through Fayetteville Street and around the Capitol, while the crowd chanted, danced, and echoed through the city. Rev. William Barber spoke from in front of the Legislature building about the “anti-racism, anti-poverty, anti-war agenda” saying “we’re calling on this state to do all of what is right, not just one or two incremental things.”
The issues taken on by marchers included union law reform, animal rights reform, HBCU college funding, sex-ed reform, and more. The marchers have seen limited progress in its agenda in the last three years, but they have seen some success with same-day voter registration and publicly financed elections. In 2008, the state implemented same-day registration for early voting.
The Local W-369 out of Moncure, NC called for solidarity in their 7-month strike against a 60-hour work week and 300 percent health insurance increase. The company replaced the strikers with permanent workers. In September, a hangman’s noose was hung in a location near the strikers. Union member Charles Raines said the march
is “a big boost in our faith” and now have the attention and support of Rev. Barber and the NAACP.
There was also a large amount of people working to repeal GS 95-98, a Jim Crow-era ordinance preventing unionizing of public employees.
More young people came out to this march than in years past, according to Lynice Williams of NC Fair Share, as was evident in the groups of college students in the crowd. “It is important that young people carry this on. They are the activists of tomorrow, and will become the leaders of tomorrow,” Lynice said.
At around noon, Rev. Barber asked all those in the crowd with instant access to e-mail to immediately send a message to the governors office: “Dear Governor and to the whole general assembly, Don’t budget on the backs of the poor.”