By Brad Garbus
On February 7th and 8th, Unitarian Universalist congregations across Virginia and beyond sent envoys to the Mass Moral March that took place in Raleigh NC. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula had almost thirty people there, many wearing our signature Standing on the Side of Love yellow shirts and hats. When we all gathered at the beginning of the march route, I am confident the number of UUs was well over a thousand. Despite the historic turnout, we were among nearly 80,000 marchers that day from all different denominations and organizations who answered the call to add our voices to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.
This was my first time in nearly forty years participating in a social justice march. It was inspiring and uplifting to see so many people from so many backgrounds gathered together as a chorus of hope for justice. What has surprised me during this entire experience is how uninformed people are regarding the multitude of issues that brought over 80,000 people together on a cold February morning; the lack of media coverage has been disheartening yet not surprising.
To give you an idea of what eighty to a hundred thousand people look like, we filled six very large city blocks from building to building, curb to curb. The NAACP had three very large jumbo-tron monitors setup so those near the back could still see and hear what Reverend Barber was saying. I am including a link near the bottom of this article where you can watch Rev. Barber’s speech and see the enormity of the crowd. It was a true representation of every walk of life in attendance.
The media has seemed to avoid any extensive coverage regarding the recent political extremism in the state of North Carolina. As described in one rare (and so all the more amazing) article in The Washington Post, “80,000 People Protested in NC this weekend. Here’s why.”, the state of North Carolina has become a petri dish for an experimental Tea Party agenda with aspirations extending far beyond state lines. These experiments have impacted several major key areas, including: education; low-income wages; health care; racial equality; environmental sustainability; and voting rights. You can read about these areas in greater depth on the HKonJ website.
I came home with a renewed sense of urgency regarding the extreme injustice that is occurring in North Carolina and across our country. It reminds me of the extreme greed that we continue to see in the banking industry and in many branches of our government. It is heart-breaking that these radical experiments are being carried out on the backs of our children, the poor and the environment. This is a blatant disregard of compassion toward our fellow human beings. Let us judge our society based on how we care for and treat our minorities who need our empathy, support and compassion the most. These people are our neighbors, our friends, our family, our co-workers, our fellow human beings. We should all be reeling at the thought of the harm that is being intentionally orchestrated by these elected officials. It made my blood boil to hear one of them on the news discrediting the Mass Moral March as a group of “fringe extremists”. As a participant, I can say without hesitation that eighty to a hundred thousand people is not a fringe element, but rather a reality that makes these officials very uncomfortable.
The clarion call that I bring back from Raleigh is to continue our support of Rev. Barber and the efforts of his coalition. We can write and visit our local and national representatives, and write to our newspapers; we can share and tell our stories and passion regarding these topics. This has been allowed to happen because far too many people assumed someone else would do it for them. I have been guilty of this myself, but what I witnessed and learned is showing up is the most important things we each can do to help change our world. We each must be the change we wish to see in the world. Discussing these topics is great, but we need far more doers. Will you join us?
Watch Rev. Barber address the marchers in Raleigh:
You can also view the multitude of photos taken during the march at Facebook’s Memories of the Moral March.