Raleigh, North Carolina  On February 8th a crowd of 30,000 individuals marched and rallied in downtown Raleigh at the 14th annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Peoples Assembly and Moral March. Organizations, families, and friends walked together  singing, chanting, and carrying signs with messages like Love is Love and War is Costly, Peace is Priceless  through downtown Raleigh to the front of the state capitol building. (Plans for the march were reported in the January 31st Beyond the Beltway.)

Those gathered heard speeches from those fighting for a number of issues, including higher wages, quality health care for all, immigrant rights, LGBTQ protections and equality, more funds for public education, criminal justice reform, and voting rights. The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, former state NAACP president and founder of the national Poor Peoples Campaign, spoke on the main stage, celebrating the crowd for coming together under a shared agenda of equality and justice and encouraging people to vote. We have to show that we are still here. We have not given up fighting, he said.

This year, the LGBTQ Committee of the NC NAACP made history by establishing the largest contingency of LGBTQ individuals and allies for the Peoples Moral March and Peoples Assembly. The group, called the 1000Strong Coalition, was done in partnership between the North Carolina NAACP, the Historic Thousands on Jones Street Coalition, and the Freedom Center for Social Justice. Sponsors included PFLAG, Equality North Carolina, LGBTQ Democrats, and Qnotes. Members of North Carolinas LGBTQ community spoke on the main stage, sharing personal stories about gaining the right to marry, the homelessness crisis facing transgender women, the multi-faced discrimination experienced by those in the LGBTQ community, and more. t (Q Notes Online  Jamila Reddy at Goqnotes.com/65049/strong-participants-take-on-capitol)