RALEIGH – The N.C. NAACP and its Youth and College Division held the 18th installment of Moral Monday in downtown Raleigh.
The gathering on Monday honored Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair - four little girls who were killed 50 years ago in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala.
The Forward Together Movement is calling on change in regards to recent education and voting rights legislation in North Carolina. Students, citizens and activists gathered at First Baptist Church on South Wilmington Street and marched towards the Governor's Mansion.
Marchers also carried caskets – representing the four girls – as they marched around the governor's home. N.C. NAACP President William Barber said the loop was symbolic of citizens going around the state demanding change.
"It is sad that we would have to gather like this 50 years later, but we will," he said.
Many murmured in distaste when told that there are not enough chairs in classrooms but plenty of beds in prison. Barber said it is becoming harder to vote and to get an education but easier for people to carry guns on college campuses.
Isaiah Daniels, the community chair for the Youth and College Division, said we are seeing millions of students’ voting rights taken.
"We will march and will not stop," he said.
Barber said the blood of the four little girls tells us "don't you dare go backwards.
"Too much blood has been shed for the rights we have," he said. "The blood of these four girls and all the martyrs still cry out. It cries out against you today Governor (Pat) McCrory, Speaker (Thom) Tillis, for attacking voting rights and defunding public education. This blood cries out to you when you refer to the Voting Rights Act as a 'headache.'"
Dominique Penny, president of the Youth and College Division, said she prepared for the day by joining with various college chapters and youth councils to mobilize and be engaged with the current voting/educational situation.
"We are trying to show that this issue is very serious, and we all just want to show our concern," she said. "This is strongly impacting us, and the decisions that are being made are attacking us personally."
NC State senior Lauryn Collier said she was representing her school's NAACP chapter.
"I think this particular issue impacts young people and college students, which is obviously my demographic and that of my peers and the people I care about, and I think it's important that we secure our future as well as that of the people who come after us," she said.
Hillside High theater arts teacher Wendell Tabb said it is important for youth to be involved in government issues. Moral Monday has been a valuable opportunity for them to show the public that they are not out of the picture and will fight for the rights they have as students.
"I'm out here first in honor and in memory of the four young ladies who were killed in Alabama," he said. "As a 27-year veteran of education, I just find it really appalling that we have to fight for our rights as educators in 2013. We have come a long ways, but we sure have a long way to go. But it seems as though we are going backwards."
Added NCSU sophomore Maurita Harris: "I find it saddening that we still have to fight for the same thing. But I find it empowering that we still as a whole can come together to fight."