ORANGE COUNTY – Activists here in Orange County and across North Carolina are gearing up for the annual Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ) rally happening this Saturday in Raleigh. This year, the event is expected to bigger than ever, combining forces with the Moral Monday protest movement.
Former Mayor of Carrboro, Mark Chilton, has participated in several HKonJ marches. He was arrested last year on June 3rd during the demonstration dubbed “Mega Moral Monday,” protesting against what he called the “regressive policies” of the North Carolina General Assembly.
“This is the most enthusiasm, the most serious organizing effort I have ever seen going into it. It is definitely going to be the biggest HKonJ ever,” Chilton said.
Formed in 2006, HKonJ is an N.C. NAACP-affiliated group, and a march takes place each year on the second Saturday in February. The Moral Monday protests were also organized by the NAACP.
Activities kick off at 9:30 a.m. on Shaw University’s campus.
“The Moral March on Raleigh” begins around 10:30 a.m. when the group departs for the State Capitol Building for a mass assembly.
“We are all terribly concerned about what the state legislature is doing to North Carolina right now, and that is the single biggest motivator,” Chilton said.
Randy Voller, Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party and Former Mayor of Pittsboro, attended many Moral Monday protests during the summer of 2013, as well as several past HKonJ marches.
He watched as close to a thousand people were arrested inside the General Assembly, protesting against legislation which they believed hurt the poor and minority groups, and negatively impacted women’s rights and education, among other issues.
“You’ve got to have a point for people to organize and that is what Moral Mondays became. It was a chance for people to express their displeasure and to essentially show that we care about our community and our state and to show these elected officials that these decisions have consequence,” Voller said.
Called “a fusion movement,” a diverse group advocacy organizations plan to share their message Saturday.
”You will feel that people are concerned, and you are going to get a strong feeling that this energy will translate into action,” Voller said.
Chilton added that his fellow members of “The Orange County Five” are attending the Moral March on Raleigh.
That group includes Carrboro Alderpersons Damon Seils, Michelle Johnson and Sammy Slade, and Chapel Hill Town Council member Donna Bell. They were arrested on June 3rd along with Chilton.
“We are all going to be there, and we are definitely feeling a lot of solidarity hanging together,” Chilton said.
This event is special for Chilton for another reason. With out his prompting, he said his son decided to rally his fellow high schoolers to make the trek to Raleigh. Chilton said he is carpooling the young activists Saturday morning.
Thirteen Moral Mondays were held in Raleigh from late May until the end of July in 2013, and 24 local Moral Mondays were held across the state.
Georgia held its own Moral Monday in January, inspired by the movement happening in North Carolina.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP transportation information.
West Chatham County NAACP transportation information.