Unfortunately, some are more equal than others. A black child born in North Carolina today is nearly three times more likely to die in infancy than is a white child. This disparity in infant mortality rates is about equal to that between Romanians and Americans.
The weather station in our pasture reported a brisk 17 degrees at dawn Saturday as we packed into our car for the drive into Raleigh, to join the ninth annual Moral March, led by the North Carolina NAACP's President, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber.
Curious to know how the media were...or were not...covering the event, I had earlier checked the Raleigh News & Observer's web site over my first cup of coffee in our kitchen's pre-dawn darkness. A brief below-the-fold list of weekend events in town gave top billing to the annual Krispy Kreme Challenge, a 5 mile fun-run with a break at the mid-point for runners to eat a dozen doughnuts each. The Moral March earned just two terse sentences. Clearly, the News & Observer's editors have their priorities straight.
Picking up our pastor along the way, then wheeling onto the freeway for Raleigh, we wondered what the turnout would be like this year. Last year's had been variously estimated at from 20,000 to 80,000 (the former being by far the more plausible number). But that was then, and this is now. Today was as cold as a Koch's heart - not exactly auspicious marching weather. Even more significantly, this would be the NC NAACP's first mass event since last November's election had cruelly dashed the hopes of North Carolina progressives, sending a
flock murder of new teapublicans to Washington. I, myself, had been sorely tempted this morning to just punch the alarm clock, pull the comforter over my head, and slip back to sleep...the march would do just fine without me. All over the state that same scene was playing out in ten thousand bedrooms. Are the Tarheel State's better angels still strong enough to beat such cruel odds?
Why, as it happens, yes, they are. Please join me below the fold for some scenes from this inspiring event.
Among the first to arrive at the staging area was a strong contingent of Planned Parenthood supporters, sporting pink caps. In 2011, Thom Tillis (R) (then Speaker of the State House and, today, our new junior U.S. Senator) attempted to defund Planned Parenthood in the North Carolina budget, but the measure was ruled unconstitutional for targeting a single provider. Tillis struck again in 2012, sidestepping the direct targeting issue by defunding “private” family planning services providers - still effectively singling out Planned Parenthood.
Thanks to a brutally union-unfriendly government and business community, North Carolina has the lowest union participation rate in the country (2%, compared to 11% nationwide), but those who, like Woody, are
stickin' with the union are scrappy and strong supporters of the NAACP's Moral Movement. The AFL-CIO's Farm Labor Organizing Committee showed up with the first warming rays of sunlight...
...as did the United Food and Commercial Workers (in yellow)...
...and the AFL-CIO-affiliated Working America:
My apologies to the Communication Workers of America, who are among the Moral Movement's staunchest supporters. I somehow neglected to take a photo of their very large contingent.
There were many, many faithful, including the always strong showings of Jews, Unitarians, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists, (yes, Virginia; there are proudly progressive Baptist congregations, black and white, in North Carolina).
And along with the faithful there were many who, too often, have been innocent victims of some who profess faith:
And there were those, such as my incredible and most awesomely Christian wife, who hold some of those innocents among our very most cherished and respected loved ones:
But not all was joyful. The family of young, black, Lennon Lacy (found hung...perhaps lynched
...and never investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation) were honored guests:
And so we marched...
...and marched (with the memory of three murdered Muslim students in Chapel Hill all too fresh in our hearts)...
...yet all together.
We were 12,000 strong by my calculation (the equivalent of 50,000 Californians marching on Sacramento, or 400,000 Americans marching on Washington). We marched as one...because how could we not?
Clearly, North Carolina's better angels have what is required - heart, awareness, deep commitment, and numbers - in order for progressives to prevail at the polls in 2016 and beyond, to set our beloved state back on the path of righteousness.
The outstanding question - which no march can answer - is how to deliver on converting these raw materials into the finished goods of turnout at the polls. Thanks in large measure to the NAACP, North Carolina's black and Latino voters did more than their share of the heavy lifting last November, but were left to fight for themselves by too many young and middle-aged whites who stayed home on their couches, perhaps gorging on Krispy Kremes, as the luckier of our young unfortunates merely went to bed hungry, and the unluckiest of all hung, lifeless, from crude nooses.
This much I know: we progressives must hang together via fusion politics
or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.