At one point, the students blocked Jones Street, between McDowell and Wilmington Streets, which led to the arrest of five students.
About 100 college students from across the state converged onto downtown Raleigh as part of the Student Power Union.
"We're living in a desperate situation right now," said UNC-Greensboro's Juan Miranda. "I guess in a political crisis and there are people willing to do whatever is needed for that to be changed."
Earlier in the day, the students' outrage simmered during a rally in Halifax Mall.
A major theme of their battle cry is Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed $140 million in cuts to the state's university system, which include tuition hikes and slashing financial aid.
"This movement is fighting back against the conditions that we've been put in," said UNC-Chapel Hill's Matt Hickson.
That the students' efforts fell on May Day, which is known around the globe as International workers Day, was no coincidence.
They say the worker's cause is tightly woven into every group they feel is threatened by what they've called a GOP-led General Assembly agenda which cuts deep into every minority community
"They're making cut after cut to things like education," said N.C. State's Molly McDonouth. "They're making it harder for students, people of color and workers to vote and that's not the will of the people."
The names of those arrested include: Dhrov Pathak, of UNC-Greensboro; Carissa Morrison, of UNC-Chapel Hill; Zaina Alsous, of UNC-Chapel Hill; Tristan Munchel, of UNC-Greensboro; and, Jessica Ann Injejikian, of UNC-Charlotte.