Ignite NC’s Valentine’s Day

A reflection piece by Communications Fellow Chelsea Moore 

This past Valentine’s day was a big weekend full of justice and love for Ignite NC fellows and essentially any and every activist across North Carolina.

The 9th annual HKonJ Moral March on Raleigh happened with the participation of thousands of activists, organizers, and organizations from across the state. Ignite NC Fellows were present along with our partners Youth Organizing Institute, and NC Student Power Union. Ignite NC Fellows along with our partners and other youth organizations from across the state marched at the forefront of HKonJ in the Black Lives Matter/Stop The War On Black America Contingent.

The march was overall a racially, gender, and religiously diverse setting for participants. And despite the chilly weather, Black Lives Matter was a loud and resonating message throughout the weekend. With so much taking place in the past few years regarding injustice for the African American community this was a great place to have their voices heard. There were also many other issues marchers were rallying for ranging from women’s health, to the fighting for $15 for minimum wage workers, to rights for immigrants, to education for our children and their future.

Later in the day Ignite NC Fellows participated in the first-ever statewide Black Lives Matter Youth Assembly hosted at Shaw University where SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) was founded in 1960. This youth assembly brought together nearly 200 youth to discuss issues in their communities and what kinds of solutions are needed.

This year we are looking forward to our fellows rooting themselves in the communities each of them attend school in and/or reside in. Our mission is to educate our very own as well as surrounding communities on issues that take place not far from us. Furthermore, this spring we plan to unite and defeat the unreasonably low pay for minimum waged workers, with a new wage of $15 per hour and right to a union. We will also fight to end all police brutality, holding each individual and every system guilty of racist violence accountable.

HKonJ weekend was very impactful for Ignite NC fellows and we made an impact as well: highlighting the important work and issues from our local communities and campuses while uplifting the work happening everywhere across North Carolina. As we incorporate both new and old fellows for the spring it was great to see fellows reunited in the same space and have our voices heard. Many of us took to HKonJ weekend to spend Valentine’s Day with those we are fighting with side-by-side for a more love-filled and justice-filled world. Look forward to hearing and seeing more from us.

For more information on HKonJ and about us visit our website! https://ncignite.org


 

chelsea moore ignite ncChelsea Moore is a sophomore at Bennett College for women. There she majors in Journalism and Media Studies with hopes of becoming a notable public relations specialist/marketing executive. She is most passionate about equality for all races and genders in corporate America. She looks forward to partnering with other fellows to have their voices heard about issues taking place in our nation.

Ignite NC to march at HKonJ: Fully fund HBCUs! End the pipeline!

A piece by Communications Fellow Chris Hart-Williams

Young people will join thousands at the “Moral March on Raleigh” to visibly challenge attacks on voting rights, economic justice, public education, equal protection under the law, and more at the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street, HKonJ march through downtown Raleigh on Saturday, Feb. 14.

“I’m going to HKonJ because my first experience was a good one, and also I want to express my concern with the school-to-prison pipeline,” Bernard Fields a junior at UNC Pembroke studying international business with a concentration in marketing said.

The school to prison pipeline is a system too many North Carolina school children fall victim to. It’s a system of laws, policies and practices that pushes students out of school and on a pathway toward the juvenile criminal justice system.

Quisha Vaughn, who is also a student will be at the march. Vaughn studies chemistry at Elizabeth City State University, ECSU in northeastern North Carolina.

During the summer of 2014, it was publically announced that ECSU was potentially the target of a UNC Board of Governors study that looked into dissolving system schools suffering with low enrollment. ECSU is one of the 16 UNC-System institutions. Lawmakers amended the budget to end the closing provision only after hearing outcry throughout the state.

“Students from all over decided that coming together to help a fellow HBCU was needed because that could have easily been their school. We understood that the legacy our founders created had to be continued,” Vaughn said.

The NC Senate budget mandated the study for campuses where full-time enrollment declined by more than 20 percent since 2010. ECSU saw a 26 percent enrollment drop between 2010 and 2013 — the only UNC school that meets that definition.

Closing ECSU, an economic hub in the northeastern region of the state would be “putting hundreds of people out of worK” said Vaughn.

In January the UNC Board of Governors voted to eliminate four degree programs at ECSU. Its studio art, marine environmental science, physics and geology programs were cut to save $468,000 annually, according to the New and Observer.

Vaughn said she wants lawmakers to support all institutions of higher-education in the state no matter their size.

“Because we are smaller institutions does not mean we are of less importance.”

According to Vaughn, her fellow Vikings felt the same as her when she found out that proposed program cuts at ECSU were going to be carried out by the UNC Board.

“Students felt hurt, alone, and let down,” Vaughn said. “They were disappointed because they felt as though they had put their trust and education in the hands of people who were supposed to protect them and make sure they get the best quality education.”

Now many ECSU students sense that there is lack of communication, security, and stability, according to Vaughn.

“When I applied and was accepted, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to start my legacy here,” Vaughn said.

In Spring 2014 she ran for class president to become a voice for her peers and that she wants to continue to do so.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities are sixth on the 14 Point People’s Agenda for North Carolina, it calls for the state to financially support HBCUs, and develop equitable infrastructure and programs with doctoral-level leadership for today’s challenges, the agenda reads.

It also lists action steps which include rejecting any proposed tuition hikes supporting the establishment of an HBCU Development Commission with staff and a long-term mandate to increase public and private funding for the HBCUs as well for need-based scholarships, higher faculty salaries, better recruitment programs and stronger curricula.

Ignite NC fellows will be mobilizing our local communities and campuses to HKonJ to uplift the work we will be doing this Spring to ensure that all workers have a living wage and right to a union, that all students will not be met with attacks on their public education, that HBCUs will not be defunded, that youth and students of color will not be met with police brutality and violence, and that North Carolina move towards a more progressive future for all who call it home.


 

Chris Hart-Williams is a senior at North Carolina State University. There he is studying political science. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of N.C. State’s Nubian Message and is a former staff writer of the student paper Technician. Chris received a certificate of appreciation from the state of NC while a communications intern at the Office of State Human Resources in Spring 2014. He also worked as an intern at WRAL News in the Fall of 2014.

Welcome Spring Fellows

Ignite NC Spring 2015 Fellows
Ignite NC Spring 2015 Fellows

Ignite NC has begun another semester of organizing and building power across the state! Twenty-three new fellows from Boone, Charlotte, Greensboro, Triangle, Pembroke, and Elizabeth City convened in Durham NC for a two-day training. Throughout the weekend we built community, organizing skills, and learned form each other about our struggles and vision for a better society.