“Out of the shadows and what?!” Loida shouted through the megaphone. The crowd responded proudly “into the streets!

This weekend we saw this movement grow. This wasn’t the first march we’ve called for in Greensboro, but it was by far the biggest. There were more supporters than ever, and more youth than ever. More young people came out of the shadows and shared their stories, taking their first steps toward action.

Politicians and campaign activists have so far failed to get the DREAM Act, AgJOBS, or any single bit of immigration reform passed despite all of the money, time and energy were spent last year pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. What has grown, however, and continues to grow, is a movement of young people ready to take action and ready to speak for themselves. The first thing they did was declare themselves “undocumented, unafraid and unashamed.”

As an organization, we believe in empowerment. The most important thing we did that day was encourage more young people to speak out. In working toward that goal, we joined several other organizations like ourselves across the country called the National Immigrant Youth Alliance in calling for coming out rallies in our state.

At the beginning of the march, Fredd Reyes, who was detained last year before thousands of petition signatures and calls were generated on his behalf, spoke in front of a detention center being built in downtown Greensboro. Fredd spoke about his time inside, his hardship, and how God helped him see it through.

We turned the corner and headed through downtown. Our crowd stretched for almost two blocks. People stopped to take pictures, ask questions, and follow along. Passers by honked their horns.

As we passed the Woolworth’s lunch counter, we were reminded of the fights that have come before us. Here college students launched the sit-in movement throughout the south, integrating lunch counters and fighting unjust laws. A few folks visited the museum prior to the march. That movement has always had our respect and admiration.

Then came the main event. We stopped at the side of Greensboro City Hall. After an introduction from the Team, we asked young people to come up, share their stories and declare themselves “undocumented, unafraid and unashamed.”

One by one, young people came up and shared their stories full of hardship and hope. They came from across the state–from towns like Marion, Zebulon, Durham, Asheville–towns in which youth need to speaking out the most.

What these young people did that day took courage. All the hard work was done by them.

At the end, Viridiana gathered everyone who shared their story that day together and told them “This isn’t the end. When there’s more to do, are you ready?” They were.

And so the movement grew.

Photos by Justin Valas