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Thousands Expected at "Moral March" this Weekend

Photo: HKonJ March draws thousands every year. Courtesy: Southerners on New Ground
Photo: HKonJ March draws thousands every year. Courtesy: Southerners on New Ground
February 6, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. – A record-setting crowd is expected this Saturday at the Moral March on Raleigh.

Also known as the Historic Thousands on Jones Street, or HKonJ march, people from the mountains to the coast will carpool and bus into the state Capitol to voice their concerns about recent policy decisions made by the State Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Beth Messersmith, North Carolina campaign director for the advocacy group Momsrising, will be there and she says she wants the state to fight to regain what's been lost.

"North Carolinians have always had a great sense of pride in the fact that we were, compared to other southern states, making the right investments,” she says. “We were making the right decisions, and I think that it's really hard for people to feel like a lot of our progress has been lost."

In recent years North Carolina has cut funding to early childhood and pre-k education, turned down $2.3 billion in federal money for a Medicaid expansion and overturned the Racial Justice Act.

Organizers are asking people to be outside Shaw University by 9:30 a.m. The march and rally is expected to last until early afternoon.

The North Carolina Council of Churches also is bringing members to the march on Saturday.

George Reed, the organization’s executive director, says fighting for programs that support women, children and people in need is supported by faith.

"We are involved because the issues that HKonJ is built around, they are issues that progressive, prophetic people of faith are engaged in as part of the practice of our faith," he explains.

Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, has spent the last year waging a campaign to get lawmakers to be what he calls morally responsible when it comes to policy decisions.

"This is a big deal because it really represents a crossroads for our state,” he says. “Do we go forward together or do we take major steps back?"

Barber and others are calling for the state to roll back voting restrictions, provide better funding for public schools, expand unemployment and Medicaid and fight inequalities in the justice system.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC