On February 8, I joined the Historic Hundred Thousands on Jones Street for the Moral March. I marched alongside community members, activists, religious groups, doctors, teachers, nurses, and veterans. I marched alongside women, babies, children, and men. I marched alongside the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, and the Unitarian Universalist church, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Equality NC and the North Carolina AIDS Action Network. I marched alongside almost 100,000 North Carolinian supporters.
Often times during my travels in the South, I have found myself defending North Carolina as a Deep South State. Historically, North Carolina established itself as a moderate state, a state that had some conservative and progressive tendencies; it was a beacon of balance, but this balance is now being severely tested.
In the last year, the North Carolina legislature was able to pass some of the most repressive laws with seemingly little regard to who these laws would most affect. North Carolina has refused to pass Medicaid expansion denying health care and health care coverage to thousands, which has proven to be costly to North Carolina. I stood there and listened to a University of North Carolina (UNC) Physician take the stage. He talked about how his patients are suffering, his hands tied and the current legislature is failing the people of North Carolina by denying coverage to patients with chronic illnesses. We now have Voter ID laws that will disproportionately affect minority populations and the poor, discouraging them from voting. Now in North Carolina, a picture ID will be required and early voting has been severely limited. I stood there, remembering my time as a student at UNC Chapel Hill. I remembered the voter drives, and how I cast my first ballot as a US Citizen. I later took my little sister to early voting and I remember the pride she felt. She was living with me in Durham, NC and was able to register and vote the same day. Now Georgia has followed suit, introducing HB 891 that would limit the options for voters on early voting for local elections. These policies and laws will continue to pass unless we stand together.
So I marched. I marched for my family. I marched for my friends. I marched for all the people I encounter and those who I will never meet. I marched for me.
Written By: Judith Montenegro.