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300 gather for Moral Monday protest in Wentworth

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Geraldine Kimber (center) and Judy Odds (left) of Reidsville hold hands with others at the Moral Monday protest.

WENTWORTH — They came together, gathering in a field in the middle of Rockingham County on Monday with one thought on their mind: Something has to change in Raleigh.

About 300 people assembled for the Rockingham County Moral Monday protest held on the lawn of Rockingham Community College.

The event took aim at recent decisions by the GOP-led General Assembly to cut education spending and Medicaid benefits as well as immigration issues.

The location of the event was significant — it’s the district of Senate leader Phil Berger.

“We’re glad to have you in the land of Berger King,” emcee Wayne Seymour said at the event’s opening.

The Rev. Nelson Johnson of Greensboro’s Beloved Community Center delivered the keynote address. Johnson said Berger seems to have forgotten the proper function of government.

“Mr. Berger, government and our democracy is supposed to work for the people and not against the people,” Johnson said.

The crowd came from all over the county — and even outside it — to show their support for the movement.

Sherry Parker, a teacher in Eden, said she came because she hates what state legislators have done to her profession.

“It’s something we need to do,” Parker said.

For Reidsville’s Bill Hurd, it was a chance to show his support for the impoverished.

“There are too many people in North Carolina who don’t have enough money to buy food all the time,” Hurd said. “I think that’s a sorry state to be in.”

Jerry Thomas of Winston-Salem said he attended because of voter suppression.

“I voted for years,” Thomas said. “I never had to show ID to vote and that’s worked for this country for years.”

The crowd interrupted speeches with cheers of approval.

Some held signs in favor of voter rights.

A large portion of the crowd wore red to show support for public education.

Also showing support for public education was current North Carolina Teacher of the Year Karyn Collie Dickerson of Grimsley.

Dickerson, a graduate of Rockingham County High School, spoke out against the voucher system.

“Why are we putting millions of dollars away from all of our public school students?” she asked the crowd.

Ann Brady, one of the organizers, was excited about the outcome of the event.

“I think people are very motivated,” Brady said. “I would’ve liked a bigger crowd, but I was happy with the cross-section that showed up. We had teachers, retired folks, young folks ... all kinds of people who showed up.”

​Contact Brad Kesler at 373-7060, and follow @Brad_Kesler on Twitter.

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