March on Sylva

Sylva community members hold hands and sing "We Shall Over come". Photo by Kayla Godfrey

by Tyana Johnson and Kayla Godfrey

“Forward together, not one step back!” was the slogan of the NAACP of North Carolina rally attended by hundreds of people in downtown Sylva on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 28.

The rally was one of 13 held  across the state in honor of the 50th anniversary of  the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Students from different colleges, community members and even  clergymen all came together to show their disdain for the new voting law that was recently passed in the state and demanded a renewal of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that was tossed out by the United States Supreme Court earlier in the year. Supporters also demanded  improvement in state employment and the education system.

The demonstration had several speakers including the President of the Henderson county NAACP Melinda Lowrance, and Moral Monday participant Valerie Summers. Summers gave the crowd eight ways to be a moral witness in North Carolina. She called them to: join the NAACP; to choose an issue; to call a school and volunteer; attend meetings of the local Boards of Elections; write a letter to an editor of the local paper; be prepared to vote and vote early; put on education rallies like this one and lastly – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Shari Dietz, the Precinct Chair for the Cullowhee Democratic Party, was inspired by the crowd turn out.

“I think the people in this county are really concerned about what’s going in Washington, and what’s going on in our state of North Carolina,” said Dietz.

The rally organizers hope that the hard work and protesting will motivate citizens to go home and organize, just as Dr. King said 50 years ago. The demonstrators came peaceful but with a steady heart for change and their mind set on a brighter tomorrow.

Video by Kayla Godfrey