Yesterday was another first for me. In all my years of being passionate about one particular cause or another, yesterday was the first time I got up and joined with thousands of other people and marched.
In the past, I've written to my legislators, sent letters to the editor, and made campaign contributions. Early this year I started volunteering for Jim Neal for Senate. And yesterday we went on a march -- HKonJ.
HKonJ is a movement started by the NAACP but joined with several other groups across the state, to push a progressive 14-point agenda through the state legislature. This is the second annual march; last year's march has led to some small successes, but there's still a long way to go. I'm not sure that either of our Democratic gubernatorial candidates really, wholeheartedly supports a death-penalty moratorium, for example. And most people don't know about, much less like to talk about, North Carolina's 30-year involvement in the eugenics movement.
We were there because Jim Neal supports the goals of HKonJ.
More photos here.
So again I got up early on a weekend (though not as early as I did for the trip to Hamlet). And of course, there was a police car blocking the road out of my neighborhood, forcing all of us to turn around and detour, which made me about 5 minutes late getting to the rendezvous at campaign HQ.
Which in turn led to a brief moment of panic on my part, as I drove up and saw no one. I walked over to the doors into the building. Locked. Argh, surely they wouldn't have left without me? I called my buddy, Rob, and he reassured me that no, the caravan hadn't left, everyone was inside, and he let me in. With a sigh of relief, I joined the group. We waited around for another 15 minutes or so then split into 2 cars and made our way to Raleigh.
I do not like one-way streets. But we only made one wrong turn and met up with the rest of the group in short order once we'd parked. We got stickers and literature to hand out, as well as yard signs to display once we actually started marching. For a long while, people just milled around and did the "meet-and-greet" thing, shaking hands, exchanging stickers and information, etc. I talked to the Planned Parenthood folks, naturally.
But again, the meet-and-greet thing is not my forte, and Hazel and Rob, my carpool buddies, did a LOT better on that front than I did. And I mean, A LOT BETTER. I drove us there and back, I marched and carried my sign, I handed out a few stickers and pieces of lit, but mostly I marched and carried my sign. Oh! And brought a camera (which I loaned to Harrison for the duration; photos of the event are by him, not me).
In a burst of TMI, every woman's favorite red friend landed on me about an hour after we got to the rally, which took the wind out of my sails for a good bit. (If you've never had an elephant standing on your insides, it's hard to explain what it feels like. But anyway.)
The rally at Chavis Park kicked things off; lots of folks spoke and a few sang. Then we marched the mile and a half to the legislative building on Jones Street, chanting slogans and waving our signs all the way. At the legislative building there were there were a few more speeches and a voter registration drive.
The atmosphere was incredibly upbeat, and the weather was great, but by this time it was pushing 2:30pm and we were all, even the extroverts, starting to wilt a little. So we decamped and made our way back to campaign HQ. Somehow, by dint of picking the correct parking garage, our little group got to our car well before anyone else, and thus made it back to Durham in advance (we thought) of the promised pizza, so our car made a command decision to detour for chicken. We still managed to eat a few pieces of pizza as well, though. ;)
And again, Jim was there with us, sitting on the floor, eating pizza. I simply cannot imagine Liddy Dole ever doing that. Or marching at HKonJ, for that matter. And that's why I'm voting for Jim.