HKonJ: Marching for Justice in Raleigh

There are many issues that are important and relevant in today’s political landscape, including climate change, the foremost threat to my generation and future generations to come. On February 13th, at the Historic Thousands on Jones Street March (HKonJ) in downtown Raleigh, many of these issues were represented in an intersectional and collaborative environment. As an ACE Action Fellow, I represented the issue of climate change, but there were people at the march supporting diverse issues such as marriage equality, voting rights, and women’s health. I felt fortunate to be part of such a large moral movement.

It is important to collaborate with other movements...because we are stronger together than we are apart.

When I first learned about the HKonJ March, I knew that I wanted to participate in an intersectional and diverse event which advocates for a wide range of moral issues. In addition to climate change, I care deeply about many of the issues represented at the march and I was excited to have to opportunity to show what I believe and what I find important. The government needs to hear the voices of its constituents, and I was proud to participate in something that amplified the voices and opinions of North Carolinians to the state government.

While planning for the HKonJ March and attending the student retreat the night before, I was full of excitement. One of my favorite activities leading up to the march was making a sign at one of our ACE Action Fellowship meetings and participating in an issue-mapping activity at the student retreat. It was fun to connect with other youth my age whom I didn’t know and discuss the issues that we were representing at the march. I got to meet so many amazing new people and form some valuable connections, as I was the only ACE Fellow to attend the student retreat.

The most memorable part of the HKonJ March was meeting up with the other ACE Fellows to march! I was so excited to get out into the cold, sunny weather to advocate for our cause. It was empowering to see the thousands of other people that showed up at the march, all advocating for different causes. The HKonJ march gave me the opportunity to learn about several different types of social injustices that I was previously blind to, including the issue of voting rights laws in North Carolina. Everyone at the march was so incredibly passionate about their causes and I felt supported and empowered to continue fighting for climate change and climate justice.

At HKonJ, we made our voices heard and they could not be silenced.

It is important to collaborate with other movements like the ones represented at HKonJ because oftentimes, different issues can go hand-in-hand and have solutions that benefit or even solve each other. This is true in the case of climate change and other social justice movements, because we are stronger together than we are apart. For example, climate change is strongly related to issues of public health, which are related to the issues of health care and women’s health rights, which are already mainstream in society. Using, supporting, and working with these other issues is essential to creating a strong and effective climate movement.

Some major takeaways I got from attending this incredible march were resilience, collaboration, and optimism. The resilience aspect was pretty obvious, as we were outside in the cold North Carolina weather for hours! This extends deeper though, since the issues we were all advocating  for are resilient in themselves and are not prepared to be silenced through any oppressive legislation or arguing from other sides. The collaboration among different causes was not something I completely understood or could grasp until I attended the HKonJ march. I didn't truly understand why working with other causes was such a beneficial step to take. But everyone at the march was so optimistic and passionate about their causes, and it was striking -- nobody seemed ready to give up and it was clear we were looking towards a bright future.

Attending this march showed me that the issues I care about are important to thousands of other people across North Carolina. I never knew the reach of these issues or how passionate others were about them until this march. It really opened my eyes to the humanity and empathy the people of North Carolina feel that I had been convinced was lacking. At HKonJ, we made our voices heard and they could not be silenced. After the march, we are keeping up the fight and we will continue to be heard. I am joining thousands of young people across the country to to take action on climate change as part of the Get Loud Challenge. The voice of change cannot be silenced. Join the Get Loud Challenge today and make your voice heard.

 

Caroline Blythe is a 2015-2016 Action Fellow in North Carolina. She attends Woods Charter School.