The Black Lives Matter movement came together with the campaign for a $15 minimum wage Monday in downtown Durham.
The rally and march was part of a national “Strike for Black Lives.” Low wage workers and their supporters, many wearing red "NC Raise Up" t-shirts, say essential workers during this COVID-19 pandemic deserve at least $15 an hour.
The chant during the rallly went like this: "We are the workers, the mighty, mighty workers, fighting for $15, $15 and a union!"
One woman addressing the crowd is known as "Mama Cookie." The long-time fast food worker says she still makes less than $15 an hour.
“These corporations that are hollering they all for Black lives, they’re lying. Cause if they were for Black lives they would pay us $15 an hour," she said. "They need to take them signs down that say they support Black lives."
Keenan Harton works for a Durham landscaping company. Harton says he has been marching in support of the Fight for $15 an hour for several years, and he still doesn't make what he calls a livable wage.
“No I’m not," said Harton. "I have no hazard pay, no paid sick days, no health care. It’s really bent out of shape right now.”
Demonstrators say the “Fight for 15 and a Union” is even more important today because many of the essential employees working during this pandemic are risking being exposed to the coronavirus.
Faith Alexander is a Certified Nursing Assistant working in Fayetteville. She is also a COVID-19 survivor, and does not make $15.
"It's very important to be out here today, to get the minimum wage raised for not only health care workers but all frontline workers across the board," Alexander said. "For Americans, period."
The rally and march gathered in front of the McDonald's fastfood restaurant on West Morgan Street, a common corporate target of the "Fight for $15" movement. In the sweltering heat, a large mural was painted in the street outside the restaurant. It read "Strike for Black Lives" in large, red letters.
Strike for Black Lives demonstrations were planned for more than 25 cities across the country.