A few weeks ago, Reverend Barber came to speak at the Stone Center. His deep voice resonated throughout the auditorium as spoke of The Third Reconstruction that is beginning to unfold in America. He urged us, young college students, to join the movement, to lead to movement, and invited us to attend The Historic Thousands on Jones Street moral march on February 13th. There, the day before Valentine’s Day, North Carolinians from across the state gathered to march for love and for justice, Forward Together, Not One Step Back.
So why did students march? What pushed them to wake up early on a freezing Saturday morning? In the midst of midterms, students decided to spend their time marching for justice. I decided to ask them why:
First-year Abbey Cmiel said,
“I marched to acknowledge the social justice issues my friends, neighbors, peers, and leaders were passionate about changing. I marched to show government leaders and others in power that equality: educational, healthcare, pay, etc. are all necessary to promote a more productive and cooperative world. And I marched to feel that I am part of a community of individuals just as unwilling to accept oppression, injustice, and misunderstanding.”
Sophomore, and Campus Y Co-President-elect, Lauren Eaves said,
“I marched because the injustices in NC need to be shouted about and heard about, I went to march with everyone who each had their own cause but together felt powerful. When there are thousands of people holding up signs, marching, giving speeches, you feel like actual change can happen and will happen if we all get out to vote – shout-out to Rev. Barber – ‘it’s on the ballot.’”
Junior Hanna Huffstetler said,
“I marched because I believe that our definitions of equality and justice should not be conditional upon race, gender, religion, or citizenship.”
Senior Jack Largess said,
“My mother was born the same year as Brown vs. Board of Education. Her grandfather was born before the civil war. The issues facing us, of inequality, racism, racial capitalism, gender-based violence, and deliberate disenfranchisement are alive and real. I marched to take one small step to make real the promise of democracy.”
HKonJ is not a single-issue event. It addresses how injustices intersect, how we are all interconnected, and how we cannot stop fighting for justice until it has been achieved for everyone.
But the fight for justice and morality is not a one-day out of the year struggle. HKonJ is just one small step forward. Students must continue to join together and fight for justice. We must vote whenever we have the opportunity. We must support causes that don’t directly affect us. We must continue to raise our voices. We must spread love, not hate. And we must refuse to take one step back.