CH Honors MLK With Annual Rally, Looks Ahead For Moral Monday

CHAPEL HILL – The message of the Moral Monday protests echoed throughout the celebrations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day as the community gathered to remember the fight for equality that the civil rights leader began decades ago.

Orange County Commissioner and civil rights attorney Mark Dorosin was the keynote speaker for the Chapel Hill Carrboro NAACP’s annual event Monday to remember Dr. King, this year with the theme, “A Day of Redemption.”

“What Dr. King showed us of so powerfully and what the Moral Monday Movement reminded us of is that we fight back by standing together against the politics of injustice,” Dorosin said.

The day kicked off with a rally in the Peace and Justice Plaza. Activists then marched down Franklin Street to the First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill for music, prayer and special messages to honor the pastor, activist, and humanitarian.

Dr. King would have been 85 years old on January 15.

Martin Luther King Jr Service at First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill

Many of the day’s speeches compared the Moral Monday peaceful demonstrations of 2013 against the policies of the Republican-led General Assembly to the efforts of Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Dorosin talked about the significance of keeping the movement alive.

“We must insist that our public officials and our policymakers consider the impact of exclusion in every decision that they make in our name,” Dorosin said. “We must hold ourselves accountable in all our actions that that ensure equal treatment for everyone in our community. I think that is what Dr. King meant when he said we must strive for the ‘understanding, creative, redemptive good will of all people.’”

Senator Valerie Foushee (Dem.), who represents Orange and Chatham Counties, spoke at the rally on Franklin Street and marched alongside her constituents and local elected officials from the three municipalities

“It is so good to see so many of you here this morning. It says to me, and I hope it says to everyone here, that we are serious about realizing the dream,” Foushee said.

Former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird retired last August after nine terms of service due to frustration over what was happening in the State legislature. She said she was tired of watching the reversal of “many progressive measures” which she and others had pushed through.

Kinnaird spoke about the importance of not forgetting Dr. King’s teachings and remembering the people who she said were most impacted by the State’s law changes.

“I am a survivor of a vicious legislative attack on me, on Valerie, on women, the elderly, the middle class, the disabled, and most of all on the poor,” Kinnaird said.

Sa’a Mohammed, a student at UNC, said she was touched by the diverse crowd that gathered to rally and march down Franklin Street together.

“The fact that we are able to unite this way is such a significant thing and it makes me really hopeful and optimistic for the future and the fact that we will be able to overcome some of the challenges that are still facing our society,” Mohammed shared.

Minister Michelle Laws, former president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, gave one of the most passionate speeches of the day and received a standing ovation for her call to action.

“We are here today to send a message to Governor George Wallace—I’m sorry—I mean, to let Governor Pat McCrory and the likes of Art Pope know that you cannot block the doors of opportunity for the masses and expect to sit comfortably in your seats of power,”  Laws said.

Each year, activists in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community also join in the annual State NAACP’s Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) march on Raleigh. This year it is happening on February 8 and will be combined with a Moral Monday rally.

MLK Day rally marshal Minister Robert Campbell, current president of our local NAACP chapter, was one of the many who encouraged people to attend the Moral March on Raleigh and rekindle the movement.

“We have to work together in order for political, social, economic and education change to take place and to be sustained. We cannot think that for a moment that the movement is for a minute. It is forever,” Campbell said.

Robin Campbell, Robert Campbell

Robin Campbell, Robert Campbell

Other Moments of the Day

During Monday’s service, those arrested during Moral Monday were also recognized. Some shared their experience of being arrested and why they felt moved to do so.

Civil rights attorney Al McSurley introduced Dorosin and recounted the time when the two first met. Dorosin joined McSurley’s law firm when the practice was on Franklin Street above the Rathskeller. Dorosin is now Managing Attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights. Both are representing Moral Monday arrestees in court.

Diane Robertson was presented with the Rebecca Clark Award for her work in voter registration efforts.

Francis and Marguerite Coyle were awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award.

Rally, March To Mark Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 85th Birthday

CHAPEL HILL – Local leaders and community activists will use the remembrance of one of the nation’s most well known civil rights activists to continue their fight against what they’re calling an oppressive agenda in Raleigh.

Monday marks the 28th Martin Luther King, Jr day, which observes the birthday of the pastor, activist, and humanitarian. Dr. King would have been 85 years old on January 15.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill creating the federal holiday to honor King. The holiday wasn’t observed for the first time until 1986.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP is holding its annual march and rally with the theme ‘A Day of Redemption’ beginning at Peace and JusticePlaza in front of the Old Franklin Street Post Office. Branch secretary, Barbara Foushee says Monday’s event will feature special guests who are active in the social justice movement.

“North Carolina State Senator Valerie Foushee, Former North Carolina State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, and a representative from the UNC-Chapel Hill chapter of the NAACP, Mr. Andrew Rowe, Jr. (will be the rally speakers),” Foushee says.

Foushee says the event continues down Franklin Street on the way to the historic First Baptist Church on the corner of Rosemary and North Roberson Street.

“After the rally, there will be a march,” Foushee says. “The program will convene at 11:00 a.m. at the Historic First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill where the pastor is Reverend Dr. Rodney Coleman. The featured speaker will be Orange County Commissioner and civil rights attorney, Mark Dorosin.”

Every year, activists in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community also join in the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) rally in Raleigh. One of the MLK rally marshals and local activist, Minister Robert Campbell, says Monday will be an opportunity for people to sign up to ride the bus to Raleigh for the HKonJ held this year on February 8.

“Last year we had one bus,” Minister Campbell says. “This year we want to have three buses leaving Chapel Hill. We encourage the general public to become a part of the movement, become the voice that says, ‘we are looking for social, economic justice for everybody.”

The Forward Together movement recently announced that HKonJ will be combined with a Moral Monday rally this year in the attempts to strengthen the movement that was started last April.

Minister Campbell says this movement continues to be an effort to protect everyone, especially those who can’t protect themselves.

“We have to make the weakest upon us as strong as the strongest upon us, because we are all a link in the chain of society,” Minister Campbell says.

Aside from the events on Franklin Street, your community will see many events in observance of MLK Day.

Book Harvest is a local nonprofit which collects new and gently used books to get them into the hands of children in homes where books aren’t readily available. Monday, Book Harvest is celebrating its 10,000 Books for Kids (10KBK) event at The Carolina Theatre of Durham on Morgan Street. Durham Mayor Bill Bell will kick off the festivities at 1:00 p.m. There will also be food, live music, and other special appearances.

Book Harvest 10KBK Event

DurhamTechCommunity College along with the help of more than 800 volunteers are gathering at the school’s main campus to package meals for the Stop Hunger Now event. The meals will be distributed through the ORPHANetwork in Nicaragua.

Stop Hunger Now Event

UNC will take the entire week to remember the social justice leader. Events continue Tuesday with an exhibit called “Re/Iterations of Resistance: Moments, Martyrs, Movement.” It will take place at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at 7:00 p.m.

Events at UNC continue Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

UNC Events

“Taking The Dream Home”

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina NAACP’s “Taking the Dream Home” rally, an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, is happening this evening at 5:30 in front of the Courthouse on Franklin Street. Speakers include former state senator Ellie Kinnaird, lawyer Tye Hunter, and Paige Johnson of Planned Parenthood.

Similar events are going-on simultaneously in the state’s 12 other congressional districts as well.

The rallies are also a continuation of this summer’s Moral Monday protests in Raleigh which resulted in more than 900 arrests in General Assembly. Thousands gathered then and “Taking the Dream Home” organizers hope the same energy will carry over to Wednesday’s event.

If it’s raining, the event will be held across the street in University Methodist Church.