Huge turnout for Historic Thousands on Jones Street march
Raleigh, NC – An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people mobilized early in the morning of Feb.8 for the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street in Raleigh, organized by the NAACP. This march was in conjunction with the start of the Moral Marches for 2014, intended to continue the momentum from last year's Moral Monday movement, in which thousands of protesters demonstrated at the doorstep of the state capitol. Over 900 people were arrested during acts of civil disobedience during the 2013 protests, refusing to give up their right to assembly.
Buses came from over 18 cities all across North Carolina. “Following the powerful Mountain Moral Monday last summer, seats quickly sold on five busses from Asheville alone. It is clear that the fight back against extreme attacks on workers, women, immigrants, teachers and students from our state legislature is getting off to a strong start in 2014,” said Sarah Buchner, of Asheville.
Despite the gusting wind and freezing temperatures, Civil Rights veteran 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton led the crowd in chants of “Fed up, fired up!” to kick start a spirited march through downtown Raleigh.
Organizers of the march made five demands:
- Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability.
- Provide well-funded, quality public education for all.
- Promote health care for all, including affordable access, the expansion of Medicaid, women's health and environmental justice in every community.
- Address the continuing disparities in the criminal justice system on the basis of race and class.
- Defend and expand voting rights, women's rights, immigrants' rights, LGBT rights and the fundamental principle of equality under the law for all people
Erin Byrd, a member of Black Workers for Justice spoke to the crowd, “We march for women. We march for every single woman who has lost unemployment benefits and still pushes their children forward. We march for every women who sends their child out into the world praying that they get home safely and aren’t gunned down because they’re playing their music too loud, or because they’re wearing a hoodie, or because they’ve got skittles in their pocket. We march for every woman who knows stand your ground laws don’t make your child any safer. Women are the 54%, that’s why we have to march and why we have to mobilize and why we’ve got to vote.”
One of the largest contingents in the march was the fast food workers, who have a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Organizers came from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia wearing red “Raise up” hats and carrying banners that said “Raise up for $15”, “We are worth more” and “Organize the South”.
The turnout and spirit of the event indicates that 2014 will be a year of increased struggle in North Carolina.