My first protest

M01I have never felt attracted to political protest. There is some feeling of tilting at windmills – lots of activity for little tangible result.  What I came to understand after the Moral Monday protest at the NC Legislature is that, just by showing up, you are sending a message of solidarity with the millions of people who are not there. Just like one vote will never determine an election, one more protester will not make a movement. But add together all those votes, or voices, and you have a power that can determine the course of a nation.

These weekly protests have focused national scrutiny on the NC government – now under complete Republican control for the first time in 100 years. After voting themselves raises, they have proceeded to gut social, unemployment and medical benefits for the working poor, cut education funds, have repealed decades of environmental regulations, and have punished NC cities with Democratic governments by privatizing water supply (Asheville) and preventing Durham from denying approval to a huge, potentially damaging development endorsed by a Republican contributor. And are now working to suppress voting rights.

This appears here not because it is a political statement, it is merely “what is now” in my home state.


Blaise Kielar received Honorable Mention in the 2022 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize for an excerpt from his memoir in progress, "Be Heard: The Quiet Kid Who Started the World’s Loudest Violin Shop." He opened Chapel Hill’s first violin shop in 1978 and retired from a music retail career by transitioning Electric Violin Shop into the first worker-owned co-op music store in the United States. He plays jazz violin and clarinet in several bands and leads the Bulltown Strutters, Durham’s community New Orleans brass band.