On Saturday, this February the 11th, thousands of people from all walks of life will gather for the sixth time to march through downtown Raleigh and make their voices heard. This movement is called the Historic Thousands on Jones Street, or HKonJ for short, and it celebrates the diversity of the state of North Carolina as well as protests the injustices within her borders. HKonJ has a fourteen point agenda that they believe in, which calls for, among other things, the abolishment of the death penalty, fair and diverse public schools, health care for those who can’t afford it, and protection of the rights of immigrants.
Last year, the call went out and thousands showed up to, along with other issues, specifically protest the discriminatory anti-diversity policy recently implemented by the Wake County school board. They urged people to speak out and, when October came around, to show up at the voting booth to vote out those who put political agenda before the good of the children in our schools. They helped bring the controversial issue to light, and when October did come around, the voters showed up and the candidates who were against the discriminatory policy soundly won all the school board elections.
This year bodes issues just as grave. The state GOP has been working hard to override Governor Purdue’s veto of the repeal of the Racial Justice Act put forth in November. It’s one of the many political games being played by State politicians trying to ramp up the rivalry between the republican controlled State Legislature and the Democratic controlled State Executive Branch during this election year. And it’s one thing when this tug of war is being played over some minor bill or two, but the Racial Justice Act represents all that stands between some unfairly convicted prisoners and a death sentence. On top of that, this May will see a referendum on our ballots asking for a constitutional amendment which will formally restrict marriage to one man and one woman. It’s a pre-emptive strike to deny the right of same-sex couples to get married, and, it’s an unprecedented writing of discrimination into our State’s constitution.
Undoubtedly, these two issues, among others, will be at the front of peoples’ minds as they march on the capital in February. And if you believe in any of them, you should march too. The more people on the street, the louder our voice, and the louder the voice, the harder it is to ignore.