This morning two college students in North Carolina are embarking on a journey across the state in the name of civil rights.
From May 4 until May 7, Jacob Tobia and Dominique Beaudry, both undergraduates at Duke University, will be walking from the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro to the State Legislature in Raleigh—an 85 mile trip—to spread the word about voting against North Carolina’s Amendment One.
A constitutional ballot initiative, Amendment One would change North Carolina’s constitution by permanently banning same-sex marriage, removing orders of protection from domestic violence victims, and even remove children from their parents’ insurance policies.
The pair has launched a website and dubbed the walk The 2 Against 1 Campaign.
Tobia, a Raleigh native, and Beaudry, who was born and raised in Concord, NC, draw inspiration for this walk from the history of the civil rights movement in North Carolina. Support from other activists has already emerged.
“Rev. Nelson Johnson — a prominent civil rights leader in Greensboro and across the state — is going to offer us a blessing when we leave Greensboro,” says Tobia, who is hopeful that other community leaders along the route will support them as well.
Tobia, who identifies as gay and gender-queer, has been active in fighting Amendment One since it was announced in the Legislature. From holding rallies, to helping to secure a voting site on campus, to authoring a resolution against Amendment One that was unanimously passed by the Duke Student Government, he’s had his hands in a variety of advocacy initiatives over the past several months.
“The coolest thing that I’ve done,” says Tobia, “was make a sandwich board encouraging students to vote against Amendment One.” He’s worn it every day for the past two weeks, and will wear it as he walks across the state this weekend.
Beaudry, a straight ally to the LGBT community, is thrilled to join him on this trek.
The pair will stay with hosts across the state who have offered room and board in a gesture of support. They have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. “When I told her about the walk, my mother’s first words were, ‘You’ll tell your grandchildren about this!’” says Tobia.
Representative Deborah Ross (D – Wake County) will welcome the duo in Raleigh.
Kyle Knight is a Fulbright Scholar in Nepal where his research focuses on the LGBTI rights movement. He previously worked at Human Rights Watch, where he focused on children’s rights issue. For three years, he worked as a suicide prevention counselor for LGBTQ youth at the Trevor Project in New York City. He currently sits on the Trevor Project’s Advocacy and Public Policy Committee, is the president of the Duke University LGBT Network, and a is lecturer in Gender Studies at Tribhuvan University, Nepal’s state-run university in Kathmandu. You can follow him on Twitter @knightktm.
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