Saturday’s eighth annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street march in Raleigh is expected to be one of the largest Southern civil rights demonstrations in decades — and businesses along the path are taking note.
Thousands of activists, students and N.C. citizens will gather for the march, which is called the Moral March in reference to the Moral Monday movement.
Moral Monday protests last summer were typically confined to Jones Street, the street in front of the State Legislative Building.
But the rally on Saturday will begin further south at Shaw University, and participants will march up toward the State Capitol, passing many more businesses than usual.
The protestors will assemble at 9:30 a.m. for speeches and will begin marching at 10:30 a.m. The march is expected to last until 12:30 p.m.
Busy Bee Cafe is located on South Wilmington Street, where protestors will start their march.
“When we had all the Moral Monday marches, it wasn’t really right on our street, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens,” said Busy Bee Cafe manager Rebecca Hoovler.
Historic Thousands on Jones Street is a coalition of 125 NAACP branches and more than 160 special interest groups, including immigrant rights, student, health care and LGBT groups.
They will protest conservative legislation passed by the N.C. General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Sean Degnan, general manager and one of the owners of bu•ku: Global Street Food on East Davie Street, said he’s supportive of the march’s goals.
“We’re behind them 100 percent,” Degnan said. “We’re against pretty much everything Gov. Pat McCrory has done.”
Degnan supports the rally’s goals to expand health care, alleviate poverty and protect Medicaid and Medicare.
He said that he works most Mondays, but he has attended one Moral Monday protest.
“They just seemed to grow and grow every week,” Degnan said. “They seemed very positive, but I haven’t seen any real change because of them, unfortunately. Voting is our only real chance to affect change.”
David Sadeghi, owner of Bolt Bistro & Bar on Fayetteville Street, said he is used to seeing masses of people in bustling downtown Raleigh, where many events are held.
“Being so close to the governor’s mansion and the Capitol, we do get quite a few of the activities,” he said.
He said these events and protests tend to affect the traffic flow in and out of the restaurant because the roads are closed.
“It depends on the time of the activities, but it affects our business, no question,” he said.
Because the march ends around lunchtime, Sadeghi said some of the protestors might come back to his restaurant, so he will be prepared with more staff.
Hoovler also added more lunch staff at Busy Bee Cafe for the occasion.
Sadeghi said he understands the importance of citizens being able to express themselves through peaceful protest.
“That’s the beauty of living in America,” he said. “It allows us to speak our mind.”
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