What Marches Do: Moral March and HKonJ People’s Assembly, Raleigh, 2/11/17


I was on the fence about going to another march.

Part of it was, I didn’t have housing until late Friday morning. Then I got a call back and suddenly had accommodations. Staying overnight Friday meant I could avoid an 8-hour round trip on Saturday. It was going to happen!

I have embraced as much of the protest movement as I can, both because I was in NC, and knew I was in the heart of some of the best organizing across partisan lines going on anywhere—AND because my faith propels me in this.

But after the Women’s March on Asheville less than a month ago, I didn’t need another march. Better to make phone calls, write letters, advocate for change with legislators. Be part of the democratic process.

But it’s easy to get mired in the minutia of this day-to-day work and lose sight of the VISION.

And that’s why marches and rallies are so important.

Throughout the Old Testament, Israel gathers to renew the covenant: to be reminded of the vision. Usually by a prophet.

William Barber is this movement’s prophet. He articulates the vision better than anybody I’ve ever heard—about how all of this is related, how it doesn’t depend on party affiliation, social class, sexual orientation or gender expression or identity, race, ethnic group, or any of the many caucuses for causes into which We the People have become divided.

After all, it’s e pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.” We can be united. Evil seeks division, seeks to pit people and groups against one another. Tells us all the lie, “THEY” are out for your jobs. African-American Christians will always be against gays and lesbians. Environmentalism is secondary to poverty. You’ll never get poor whites to work on racial reconciliation.

And on and on.

As with Asheville, the signs people carried and the shirts they wore dispelled these false dichotomies. I saw people of color carrying LGBTQ rights signs. Mountain people chanting health care for all. Suburban parents and their kids defending Planned Parenthood, civil liberties, and voting rights.

“Intersectionality” is a big buzzword right now, and I’m tired of hearing it—but the vision of Rev. Barber and what started in North Carolina and is sweeping the nation right now articulates intersectionality perfectly without the word: God’s will is that ALL should be one, and whole, and that “righteousness and peace shall kiss each other,” as the psalmist sings.

To be there Saturday in Raleigh, one among 80,000 people, all for this wholeness—it’s a vision of hope for eyes that look upon the sickness in our national body and know it needs healing.

Now, this morning and this week, I feel renewed to go back to the trenches of phone calls, letter writing, prayer and lighting candles against the hopelessness that tells all those lies that divide us.


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