An annual civil rights event focused on pushing back against North Carolina's conservative-leaning government saw thousands of people march through the streets of the state's capital Saturday. Led by the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), thousands gathered for the 11th annual Moral March on Raleigh to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies as well as "legislative attacks on the people of North Carolina" through a "love and justice movement."
The Moral March on Raleigh is an effort to challenge what organizers call "the immoral and unconstitutional policies" passed and supported by conservative Republican state lawmakers. Organizers focused this year's march on demanding equal rights, an end to gerrymandering, the repeal of House Bill 2, saving the Affordable Care Act, and opposing the Trump administration's immigration ban and border wall.
"We fight for an intersectional agenda to support public education, economic sustainability, workers' rights and livable wages, health care for all, medicaid expansion, environmental justice, equal protection under the law without regard to race, immigration status, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, voting rights for all, and criminal justice," organizers said on the event's official website.
This year's Moral March on Raleigh, which was followed by the annual Historic Thousands on Jone's St. (HKonJ) People's Assembly, is thought to have been one of the largest ever held, drawing thousands from across the state. Although crowd size estimates were not available from local law enforcement, roughly 6,300 people had RSVP'd to the march on its official Facebook event page with another 7,300 marking themselves as "interested" in attending. The march kicked off near the Duke Energy Performance Art Center in downtown Raleigh and worked its way through roughly seven blocks before ending near the city's old Capitol Building.
However, like any politically focused event, the Moral March isn't without its detractors. Unsurprisingly, North Carolina's Republican Party heads the most of the criticism against the march. "The agenda supported by this march is a march towards bigger and more expansive government, higher taxes and fewer jobs in North Carolina," Executive Director of the North Carolina Republican Party Dallas Woodhouse said in a statement released by the GOP. "It is an agenda soundly defeated in four consecutive statewide elections, and does not represent the agenda of most North Carolinians."
But Moral March organizers say the conservative political agenda that has taken hold in North Carolina seeks to undermine democracy at the federal, state and local level. "This is a movement, not a moment," the North Carolina NAACP said of the Moral March on Raleigh.