GLBT Center Marches in 10th Annual HKonJ People’s Assembly Moral March

Lake Raleigh with Park Alumni Center

Park Alumni Center, sitting on the banks of Lake Raleigh.

“If they can stand the heat, we can stand the cold!”

On a sub-freezing Saturday morning, the GLBT Center bused a dozen students to the 10th annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Moral March, better known as HKonJ.

The February 13th mass demonstration centered around current intersecting social justice issues encapsulated in the 14-Point People’s Agenda: education equity, voting rights, labor rights, closing the healthcare gap, police and criminal justice reform, environmental justice and racial justice. This NAACP-coordinated event has grown to include immigration reform, reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, police accountability and affordable education, among other social justice issues. Keeping the times in mind, this year’s march focused on voter rights and reform.

This is our time. This is our vote.

Under the slogan “Forward Together, Not One Step Back,” HKonJ continues to provide space for the voices of those most marginalized by the policies and practices across our state. The pre-rally attendees heard from advocates speaking about their causes before the start of the march on the capitol. Historic Thousands on Jones Moral MarchAt the end of the 7 blocks, the demonstrators gathered to hear about the experiences of those impacted by the lack of adequate education funding, the healthcare coverage gap, the marginalization of youth and elders, the devaluing of workers and the demolition of the rights of immigrants, undocumented or not. As Rev. Dr. Barber reminds us: “This is our Selma… dogs, the red shirts, Jim Crow. If they can stand the heat, we can stand the cold for justice.”

The breadth of the movement is captured later in his speech: “We are supporting healthcare for all and women’s health and environmental justice. We are supporting criminal justice reform and dealing with the disparities that affect black, brown and poor white people. And we are supporting integrity and expanding voting rights, and the LGBTQ rights, and immigrant rights, and labor rights, and the fundamental principles of equal protection under the law.”

What do students take away from HKonJ?

It was great to see people from all different struggles of life come together to stand up for what they deeply believe in. It’s amazing that even though all the people out there were so different in so many ways, we are still able to gather together and fight as one. – Jay Martin

I think what makes HKonJ such a powerful event is the fact that people from all different walks of life have the opportunity to come together and share their visions for this world. Though folks are affiliated with all different organizations and coalitions, we are united by our love for progress, equality, and community. – Leah Block

I am studying education, specifically math education, and the biggest thing we notice is that if you don’t have support at home or if you don’t have support outside of the classroom, you’re more likely to not even have support in the classroom. It’s just increasing our differences and discrimination that’s happening, and I’m fighting to make sure that all students have access to the education that they need to succeed. – Margarete Leak

Andy DeRoin is program coordinator in the GLBT Center.