Raleigh, N.C. — The Pilgrimage of Peace, an annual march for human rights, is an Easter Week tradition in North Carolina. About 70 people gathered in Raleigh Friday to greet the marchers and join them for Good Friday services on the grounds of the State Capitol.
The two dozen or so walkers started in Wilmington on Sunday and ended in Raleigh Friday.
"When you think about Jesus' suffering and death, it's not just a historical fact. We think of Jesus suffering in the struggle for justice now, so it makes all kind of sense to do this during Holy Week," said organizer Gail Phares.
This marked the 26th anniversary of the march, which went through Greenville, Rocky Mount and Wilson this week. This year's focus was immigration reform and racial profiling of Latinos.
Tessie Castillo said she marched for her husband. He came here legally seven years ago, but after years of paperwork and stress, he is still not a citizen. That’s proof, she says, the immigration system is broken.
"The Department off Homeland Security basically controls my marriage," Castillo said. "I feel like they can take my husband away from me if they want to."
Castillo called her first pilgrimage a powerful experience.
"We've been marching with Hispanic immigrants, with Muslims, with people from the African-American community, Buddhists – just everybody coming together to support the same cause," she said.
Phares says it's about equal rights for everyone.
"We saw a lot of tears. We cried ourselves a lot at some of the stories we heard, so we hope it makes people be more aware and more compassionate," she said.