“That is why you are on this tour — to transform the hearts of people around the country…”
Candlelight vigil inside Duke’s historic University Chapel highlights tour’s trek through the Tarheel State…
Following yesterday morning’s protest at a Charlotte Publix and lunch with Fair Food Program partner Compass Group, the tour crew continued making its way through its Day Two itinerary, arriving in the late afternoon to Durham, the heart of the state’s famed Triangle Area.
Our evening started off with a presentation by CIW members on the Fair Food Program hosted by Duke Universtity’s Divinity School and attended by Fair Food allies from Student Action with Farmworkers and Durham Congregations in Action…
… the highlight of which, without a doubt, was the world premier of the CIW’s newest theater production, a piece prepared specially for the Now Is the Time Tour. The piece compares the working conditions on farms that are participating in the Fair Food Program and complying with the Program’s Code of Conduct to those found on farms that still operate outside of the Program’s protections. It also takes a critical look at the role that buyers who refuse to support the Fair Food Program, companies like Wendy’s and Publix, play in perpetuating farmworker poverty and providing a potential market for tomatoes picked in harsh, dangerous conditions:
Following the theater, CIW members discussed the changes brought about by the Fair Food Program in more depth and how consumers can help secure and expand those changes by demanding Fair Food tomatoes at the supermarkets and restaurants where they shop.
Finally, we made our way — art in tow, and through some icy rain — to the historic Duke University Chapel for a moving candlelight vigil:
Rev. Sally Bates, Chaplain of the Duke Divinity School, welcomed farmworkers into the hallowed space, reflecting on how our vigil joined a long history of movements for social change that have gathered at this same site to make their call for justice heard. The CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo then took to the mic, recalling not only the advances in fundamental human rights that workers, after twenty long years of struggle, are finally seeing in the fields today, but also the work left to be done. ”We are a long way from home, and have left our children behind, which perhaps makes us sad,” Lupe said, her voice echoing off the high ceilings. “But it is for them, for the future, that we have come.”
Reverend Roy Terry, Pastor of Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Naples, FL, closed the vigil with a resounding call to action. ”You are the light that is bringing the message of God, the message of reconciliation and liberation,” he told the farmworkers gathered. ”That is why you are on this tour — to transform the hearts of people around the country…”
“… God is always with those who struggle for justice.”
The evening closed with a soft round of the Civil Rights era classic “This little light of mine.” Although our bodies were sore after a day of cold, travel, and protest, our spirits were soaring.
The message heard loud and clear throughout the day was crystal clear: the New Day dawning in the fields under the Fair Food Program has transformed the Florida tomato industry into the industry it ought to be — an industry firmly rooted in respect and dignity for the men and women who do the hard work of harvesting the food we eat, an industry that reflects the world that we all hope to live in and hand on to the generations that are to follow us.
Yet there is still a long road ahead to protect and expand the borders of this humane agricultural industry — and that road takes us to Asheville, NC, for Day Three of the Now Is the Time Tour! Check back soon for more updates from tour, and click here for more photos from all the Day Two action.
Last but not least — enjoy this inspiring first video dispatch from the road!