Still, the Rev. William Barber, head of the N.C. NAACP, said the stormy weather was a blessing — not a curse.
“When it rains on that event, that’s God’s blessing on that event,” he said.
Hundreds huddled together against the rain to hear Barber and a number of activists speak at the rally, part of a national campaign known as the Fight For $15.
Jordy Salguero, a UNC junior, grew up in a household of five with Guatemalan immigrants as parents.
“I knew how it felt to see the struggle of two low-wage workers barely surviving in this society,” Salguero said. “Their days consisted of arduous manual labor and long, stressful hours.”
Salguero said Fight for $15 was an opportunity for groups to come together and fight for change.
“Marching next to students and workers, nationwide, proved to our society that we care for our lives,” he said. “As a first-generation student, I worry that all of my hard work and dedication in school wouldn’t provide a sufficient living wage for me in the future.”
A first-time protester, UNC senior Michael Stephens said he attended to stand against wage inequality.
“I think there’s a lot of injustice in employment — a lot of families who are working hard but can’t pay for everything,” Stephens said.
“Hey, hey. Ho, ho, $7.25 has got to go,” rang through Shaw’s courtyard as representatives from the N.C. NAACP, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and SEIU Faculty Forward spoke to the crowd.
The president of Shaw University, Gaddis Faulcon, made an appearance.
Yara Allen, of the N.C. NAACP, led the crowd in a psalm and song, imploring the crowd to stand strong.
“Like a tree that’s planted by the water, we shall not be moved.”
Taylor Lammert, a UNC senior and co-chairman of CAGE at the Campus Y, said he attended the rally because a $7.25 minimum wage forces workers into unfair decisions on how to spend paychecks.
“It prevents people from being able to put food on their tables, let alone healthy food,” he said. “It prevents people from being able to pay for health care, and I think it’s wrong for a mother to have to choose between gas money to get to work and buying school supplies for her child.”
Lammert said he was recently accepted into medical school, but had he not been, he likely would have gone into one of the lesser-paid medical professions — like the certified nursing assistant position.
“I mean one woman said, ‘We care for them, we cry with them, we celebrate with them. Isn’t that what a doctor does?’” Lammert said.
Shilpi Misra, a UNC senior, said she believes the number of people who showed up to the rally despite the rain showed the movement’s dedication.
“I truly think it’s a movement that will change people’s lives for the better,” Misra said. “There’s a lot more work, organizing and action that needs to be done.”