Occupy Greensboro: Unemployment March

Dec 12th, 2011 | By | Category: News

On Saturday, December 10, shouts of Occupy Greensboro members could be heard downtown. Chants like “banks got sold out, we got bailed out!” and “money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!” were exclaimed in time to drums, provided by Cakalak Thunder.  Though the numbers of the October 15 solidarity march could not be matched, the turnout managed to cover well over a block of space.

Photo by Greensboro Bear

This particular march and rally was to provide education about the incredibly low employment rates. Currently, the unemployment rate in Greensboro is 11.1%. Because of this high rate, 20% of Greensboro is below the poverty line. The march was organized by the Unemployment Working Group in conjunction with Occupy Greensboro.

The Occupiers congregated outside the downtown library around 11:30 AM, where I saw familiar faces from the General Assemblies (which occur three times a week at Glenwood Coffee & Books) as well as new ones. Both factual and opinion-based signs were held in people’s hands. There was a sign that had a picture of FDR that said ‘miss me yet?’ – referencing the New Deal. My own sign (which I had made at 9 that morning – the paint was still wet as I marched) read “college-aged employed rate: 25%.” I also noticed a sign for Occupy Winston Salem, which definitely struck me as interesting.

Around 11:45, Cakalak Thunder began drumming. They pumped up the crowd, leading them slowly down Church Street. As we reached Friendly Avenue, the back of the march began chanting using the people’s microphone and bullhorns. (“What do we want?” “Jobs!” “When do we want them?” “Now!”) Some members of the group were even dancing to the drums. Thanks to these people, the march was heard for blocks and our spirits were high.

On our way to Government Plaza, we received honks and shouts of encouragement from cars, as well as a few fists in the air. At the corner of Church Street and Friendly, someone even stuck their head and arms out of the window in support.

Photo by Greensboro Bear

We made it to Government Plaza by 12:15. The crowd formed a semi-circle around a small stage. Though the leaders of the march were told that electricity would be provided, they discovered the power was not on. However, they came prepared – the bullhorns used in chanting provided another use. Ed Whitfield, Eric Jonas, and more people spoke to us about the current state of unemployment in Greensboro. After the speakers, the group broke up into parts to discuss future plans. I had to leave due to the cold weather and the end of semester work, but progress was made in the smaller groups.

As we marched, I moved from the back of the group to the front and realized the true number of people who had taken their Saturday morning to protest. An extreme sense of pride rose up inside of me as I thought about how this march began as just an idea in the GA. Here it was: the final product of the working group’s time and effort, walking down Greene Street. There was so much planning put into this march, and I’m glad that I took the incentive to come down. Not only did it give me a reason to procrastinate my final paper, it gave me the feeling that I was doing something positive.

I highly recommend coming to an Occupy Greensboro general assembly and get educated. Meetings are Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:30-8:30 PM and Sundays from 4-6PM. They are held at Glenwood Coffee and Books, which is at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Grove Street.

Occupy Greensboro

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