RALEIGH, N.C. – With this year’s theme of And a Little Child Shall Lead Them, thousands are expected to gather Saturday at Shaw University in Raleigh to take steps toward justice in North Carolina.
The 13th annual HK on J, which stands for Historic Thousands on Jones Street, is set to focus primarily on educational equality, according to the founder of the rally and the National Poor People’s Campaign, the Rev. William J. Barber.
Barber says the General Assembly has the power to improve the lives of children in North Carolina and U.S. detention centers.
“For years now, we’ve been gathering Historic Thousands on Jones Street, and the moral march on Raleigh, with an intense focus on the legislature and the General Assembly,” Barber states.
Barber says the state legislature could adopt laws that improve everyday lives of children, including Medicaid expansion, paying more for public education and increasing the minimum wage for more than 2 million workers.
According to a recent report by the Public School Forum, the state has created “a political environment that often does not value or adequately supports traditional public education.”
Since 2008, the Department of Public Instruction has faced almost $30 million in cuts.
Courtney Patterson, fourth vice president of the NAACP, calls this level of disinvestment an alarming trend that needs attention.
“The movement of taking dollars from public education and placing them into charter schools and private education, I think that focus on education is the right way to go this year,” he states.
Currently, North Carolina ranks 39th in per-pupil funding, more than $2,000 per student behind the national average, according to the North Carolina Association of Educators.
The march also will celebrate the 102nd anniversary of the founding of the NAACP with an ongoing event slogan of No Time to Stand Down: We Must Stand Strong and Endure.
The march will feature a mothers’ brigade of anti-poverty advocates.
Rev. Anthony Spearman, president of the state NAACP, says protecting children in North Carolina and at the border is a moral responsibility.
“Some often lose sight of how harmful public policy directly affects children and families,” he points out. “And the sacred text from various traditions call us to protect children. ”
Other issues to be addressed during the 2019 rally will include equal protection under the law, immigration and women’s rights. For more information, visit naacpnc.org.