Locals head to Raleigh rally

Published 8:10 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014



 Moral March expected to draw thousands

The bus leaves Washington at 7:15 a.m. Saturday. The destination is Raleigh, to what is being called the largest Civil Rights gathering in the south since Selma, Ala., in 1965.

The assembly represents a combination of Moral Mondays — the grassroots effort to check, through peaceful protest at the state’s capitol, what many view as an ultra-conservative agenda in the North Carolina General Assembly — and HKonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street), an annual march that has brought thousands to downtown Raleigh over the past eight years to promote equal rights.

The two movements have joined forces this year for the Moral March on Raleigh.

At 9:30 a.m., the march begins at Shaw University on Wilmington Street and ends at the state capitol building. According to local NAACP branch president Bill Booth, the march will be drawing a lot of attention, and a lot of participants.

“We’re anticipating the largest crowd we’ve ever had at this year’s rally — about 30,000,” Booth said. “We have 18 states sending buses to the rally.”

Booth said North Carolina legislators’ recent erosion of voting rights, unemployment, teachers’ pay, school funding and other issues have not only inspired residents of other states to attend the rally, but have also boosted NAACP membership numbers across the state.

“There are NAACP branches popping up where they have never been before,” Booth said. “It isn’t just a black thing — it’s a people’s thing. More people are joining. More people are joining here. Attendance is up in Beaufort County because of the (Vidant Pungo Hospital) issue in Belhaven. It’s an example of their discontent with where things are.”

Booth said 35 Beaufort County residents will be on the bus to Raleigh Saturday, but many more will be driving themselves to the rally.

“We’re encouraging people to come. It isn’t about Republicans and Democrats — I want to make that clear. There are some good Republicans and some bad Democrats out there. It’s about people doing the right thing and being committed to positive change. That’s what we strive to do: make life better,” Booth said.

For more information, contact Bill Booth at 252-945-5355 or James Smallwood at 252-940-8297.