Scenes from a Moral March – photos

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For the first time since the HKonJ movement began in 2007, NCWU was an official coalition partner in 2014.  A few of our members had been partners early on, but it wasn’t that long ago that many in the North Carolina progressive movement did their work under the notion that all of our progressive issues were separate – working on “your” issue could take limited resources away from “my” issue. While there was general support for a wide-reaching progressive agenda, women’s rights, labor rights, voting rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, disability rights, immigration, racial issues, environmental justice, the criminal justice system and quality health care access were all considered issues that had nothing, or not much, to do with one another.

That thinking has changed in recent years, and this new approach has only served to make our movement more robust. While NCWU, HKonJ and our respective members have been advocating for pro-equality policies well before the 2010 elections that brought a hard shift towards staunchly conservative ideologies, the scope and speed with which these policies are now being enacted – with seemingly few in the state government willing or able to stop them – means our advocacy has taken on a new urgency. And as we looked to our partners all struggling under the same umbrella of promoting fairness and justice for all, we realized that not only were we stronger when we worked together, our separate agendas really weren’t that separate. Isn’t discrimination against pregnant workers and sexual harassment on the job a labor issue as well as a women’s issue? Doesn’t the mass incarceration of men of color have detrimental effects on the women in their lives? What about women’s increasing lack of control over their reproductive lives – doesn’t that affect them economically as well as physically? When laws allow personal discrimination to take away the rights of LGBT citizens, how can anyone else’s rights be safe ? And restricting voting rights means those advocating for any of our progressive policies have less of a voice in the process.

 

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The near constant debates over who is allowed to have what rights – to marry, to live here, to work, to safety, to opportunities – have the eventual effect of putting many of us in the category of something other than full human beings with an equal right to respect and dignity. Once that “othering” is established, it’s easy to justify and continue the oppressive policies that have harmed so many of us in just a few years.  Saturday’s Moral March was our biggest effort to date to take a visible public stand for what so many of us have been feeling and expressing with our families, friend, neighbors and elected officials.

This year’s march included speakers from two of our members – Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina and Equality NC – speaking on reproductive rights and LGBT equality, respectively. As these two issues have been at the heart of some of the staunchest and most reliable conservative pushback, particularly by those claiming a moral and religious “high ground”, hearing these two issues advocated from the stage solidified our status as a burgeoning movement working towards equality for all North Carolinians. While the opposition has used this fact in an attempt to discredit the movement, what we now find is a crack in the wedge those calling themselves the “moral majority” have used to divide many of us for so long. If those two issues can be cheered on the stage in front of 80,000 participants at a “Moral” March, it means the notion of what is moral is being expanded to a more compassionate, inclusive view. Instead of the traditional “hot-button issue” debate, we can call into question the morality of allowing so many of our fellow citizens to suffer from poverty, illness, injustice and violence. On this foundation, we are building a new moral movement that supports empathy, compassion, diversity, community, justice and equality.  We hope you will join us.

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