In the last two weeks, Charlotte has seen thousands march uptown in support of immigrants, a city council meeting overrun by protestors and a deluge of forums to address the national political climate. I’ve lived in Charlotte more than 20 years, and I can’t recall this must passion about an issues since the play “Angels In America” was scheduled to be performed here. Trust me, that was a long time ago.
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This new activism is refreshing and long overdue. We saw the first seeds of unrest in September when riots rocked Uptown and North Charlotte. Now, more peaceful demonstrations are nearly becoming a weekly occurrence here. Most of the protesting lately has centered on national immigration policies and the immigration raids happening throughout the country, including here.
On Tuesday, the Gantt Center hosted a forum titled From Protesting and Marching to Application and Equality. At the same time, WFAE hosted a forum titled Immigration Policy in the Queen City. Both drew modest crowds, but the overlapping timing speaks to one of my concerns.
How do we bring these separate movements together?
The people attending the WFAE forum should’ve been at the Gantt forum and vice versa. Too often protest movements happen in silos. The closest we’ve come to unifying movements was during the Black Lives Matters protest last fall. Those protest drew everyone, but now it seems that we’re back in our lanes. The LGBT community protest for their rights, immigrants protest for their rights, everyone protests for women’s rights and Blacks protest for our rights.
Last night, at the Gantt forum, Rev. Rodney Sadler, an activist in a variety of movements, implored the audience to see these various struggles as one movement.
“We need to begin to fuse our efforts. We need to begin to see these big issues as one issue” Sadler said. “We need to work together if we want to achieve justice.”
He’s right. Imagine the power and the progressive we could make if we unified our movements into one collective struggle. We are so much stronger working together than in our individual silos. Now is the time capitalize on the energy and activism coursing through this city.