Local News

Moral March advances variety of issues

Posted February 8
Updated February 9

— Although they represented different ages, races and geographies, all of those who marched Saturday in downtown Raleigh share a single goal. "Everybody wants a change," said demonstrator Joyce Gresham.

Tens of thousands representing a number of different political and social issues clogged Raleigh's Wilmington and Fayetteville streets for what planners dubbed the "Moral March."

"I think a lot of people in this state from all different socio-economic levels are really fed up with the way things are going," said Jennifer Martin. She came to the march from Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham.

Others made a longer trip. Organizers made no secret of the fact that some of the participants were from outside the Triangle and even outside the state. They requested a permit for up to 20,000 and estimated the turnout at many more. People were bused in for the event from Washington, D.C., and New York City. 

The state NAACP, which has organized the event in the past as the "Historic Thousands on Jones Street," renamed it this year to continue the protests against recent North Carolina legislative actions begun last spring. Over the course of three months, more than 900 people were arrested in a series of marches known as "Moral Monday."

"In this moment we cannot be silent. We must speak up," Rev. William Barber urged the assembly. Barber, state president of the NAACP was the key speaker at the rally.

GOP leader blasts protest as "partisan," "fringe"

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope on Friday called the movement "radical left-wing activism" and accused Barber of seeking to "eviscerate" state Republican leaders. 

“Barber’s use of inflammatory, divisive and offensive rhetoric has no place in the public arena of ideas,” Pope said.

The state NAACP originated the marches during the Democratic administration of then-Gov. Bev Perdue. The protests should be directed against Democrats who, when in state leadership roles, were both corrupt and inept, Pope said. 

Large crowd, many issues

Backers of progressive causes from abortion rights to environmental regulation to expanded early voting were among those gathered Saturday.

Joyce said she hoped the size of the crowd would catch the attention of state lawmakers.

"If they see this crowd, if they are smart, they will listen," she said.

Messages spotted in the crowd included:

  • advocates for women's issues and Planned Parenthood protesting what they see as restrictions on abortion,
  • representatives of the AFL-CIO backing higher pay for fast-food workers,
  • a gay couple from Asheville on hand to protest the state's recent move to define marriage as only between one man and one woman,
  • signs advocating the expansion of Medicaid benefits in the state,
  • teachers and children demonstrating in favor of higher education funding,
  • environmental activists and opponents of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and
  • opposition to the new requirement that North Carolina voters show photo ID.

"This is not about liberals versus conservatives," Barber said. "It's about right versus wrong."

106 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Newest First
View all
  • Steve Mchugelarge Feb 10, 8:00 a.m.

    I like how no one was worried about any of these issues until they were out of power

  • A person Feb 10, 8:01 a.m.

    I would not say they "advanced" anything, but it sure made for a good belly laugh

  • mikeyfan5600 Feb 10, 8:06 a.m.

    It's amazing that neither WRAL or the main stream media didn't mention that the rally required all participants to have a photo ID. They are protesting the requirement of Photo IDs to vote but yet you had to have a Photo ID to attend this March. What Hypocrisy from the NAACP and from the News Media, including WRAL, for not reporting this. http://www.bizpacreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/NAACP_Dos_and_Donts_for_Marchers.pdf

  • TVs_Deceit Feb 10, 8:06 a.m.

    In the march handout it said to bring ID to a protest which was against bringing ID to vote.

    In the South that's what we call being a "hypocrite".

  • Shuffles24 Feb 10, 8:19 a.m.

    But USA Today said there were 100,000 people. What? You mean that wasn't an accurate figure?

  • tmstubbs63 Feb 10, 8:20 a.m.

    Steve makes a great point. These groups were fine with everything as long as the socialists Democrats were in power. Now that the voters of NC changed that power structure, these groups have the Chicken Little syndrome....

  • tracmister Feb 10, 8:21 a.m.

    At least they haven't given up on free speech yet while they still have it.

  • A person Feb 10, 8:23 a.m.

    In the march handout it said to bring ID to a protest which was against bringing ID to vote.

    In... View More

    — Posted by TVs_Deceit

    No one ever said the Liberals were not the biggest hypocrites out there

  • short Feb 10, 8:24 a.m.

    "People were bused in for the event from Washington, D.C., and New York City.".......This comment says it all. Mr Barber - please - go get a real job.
    advocates for women's issues and Planned Parenthood protesting what they see as restrictions on abortion,
    No restrictions unfortunately - but safer conditions
    representatives of the AFL-CIO backing higher pay for fast-food workers,
    sure, lets pay the non-skill labor 10.10 an hour no wait 20.20 an hour, heck any number is good.
    signs advocating the expansion of Medicaid benefits in the state
    Notice though, no signs how to pay for it teachers and children demonstrating in favor of higher education funding, Some of the highest per student costs in the world - and we rank where? environmental activists and opponents of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and Sure, cheaper energy....solyndra anyone? opposition to the new requirement that North Carolina voters show photo ID. Oh, I guess to keep criminal intent to zero is a bad thing.....

  • jeffjohnson123 Feb 10, 8:32 a.m.

    Barber missed the point, it's about blind passion versus reason. These blind protests ignore the voice of the majority to accent the misguided wants of a few.

More...