HKonJ March Highlights Fight for Justice in North Carolina

The Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Moral March is a truly historic march in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina that hundreds of people and organizations attend every year. People come from all over North Carolina and unite under one goal: to be heard.

Over 125 NAACP branches, youth councils/empowerments, climate change fighters, and many more all come together with signs, banners, passion, and love for one another regardless of the specific reason why they are at the march. The march is so important not just to me but to so many people because it shows the strength and determination of the people of North Carolina who will not be silenced.

Youth are powerful and when we put our minds to something we can achieve anything.

It was important for me to go to HkonJ because I was there representing ACE and bringing awareness to climate change and how it is affecting everyone. Going to the march, I was excited and nervous at the same time - excited because I had never been to a march before and I was ready for the experience but I was also nervous because I did not know what to expect and I was being thrown into something I had never done before.

However, once I arrived, the nervousness quickly went away and the excitement was almost overwhelming. Looking around at all the faces and signs really brought a sense of happiness to me because I was going to be a part of something big. I had known that this march was important but to witness for myself so many people coming out and protesting for change to happen really was a amazing sight to see, the chants that filled the air were the motivation to keep going.

There were a lot of speakers there for different reasons; there were people from different sections of the NAACP, environmental groups, and even speakers on immigration issues and how they are affecting the lives of thousands. I felt really inspired when a lady who had to live in sanctuary for 7 years talked about her struggles and the fear she faced because she wasn't allowed to leave for fear of deportation. She overcame so many obstacles and was finally allowed to leave and to live a normal life without having to worry about being deported.

From left to right: Action Fellow April Springer, North Carolina Program Manager Kathryn Kevin / and Action Fellows Zoë Bettmann and Kaniyah Purcell

After the march, we attended a youth-only event which was pretty amazing. he youth space was an area where all of the teen speakers and teens who participated in the march got together and talked about where they came from and what some of the problems are in their communities and schools. It was really cool to be in a space with teens who were all there for different reasons but are all working for some type of change.

The event left me ready to fight alongside of thousands of other youth for problems that we are most exposed to and not be pushed aside because we are ‘’too young’’ we are ready to fight for our future.

I spoke with a young lady from Appalachian State University and she told me about how her school is facing racial issues and how her school didn’t know how to handle it so they had to create ways to keep the peace on campus. She talked about how she was part of a group that worked not only keeping the peace between races, but also tackled environmental issues. She created a group where students garden and talk about how to make Appalachian State more sustainable but also talk about racial tensions that have happened in their everyday lives during school and how they could handle the situation correctly and defuse any negativity before anything happens. It was a really amazing thing that she started and she is hoping that more people join the group so they can tackle racial experience.

At the event, we also talked about creating action plans for our schools and communities and how we could tackle issues that are important to us. Overall my take away from the event was that youth are powerful and that when we put our minds to something we can achieve anything. The event left me feeling motivated to fight for change and ready to fight back against anyone who tries to disregard youth and our ability to achieve our goals. We are the front lines of climate change, racial profiling, LGBTQ rights and so much more. Leaving the event left me ready to fight alongside of thousands of other youth for problems that we are most exposed to and not be pushed aside because we are ‘’too young’’ we are ready to fight for our future.

Kaniyah Purcell is a 2017-2018 Action Fellow in North Carolina. She attends Chapel Hill High School.