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Grammy-winners Ozomatli, La Santa Cecilia to headline CIW’s Concert for Fair Food!

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Grammy Award-winning artists/longtime social activists set to perform at March 21st concert…

In 1995, an unknown farmworker organization by the inelegant name of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers exploded onto the scene with a community-wide general strike in Immokalee, Florida.  Taking over the central parking lot in town where workers would gather before dawn in search of day labor (below, right), thousands of farmworkers came together to disrupt decades of farmworker poverty and abuse and to launch a call for “Dignity, Dialogue, and a Fair Wage.”  The struggle born that day would strikeeventually give rise to the Campaign for Fair Food in 2001, and later to the Fair Food Program, an award-winning, worker-driven human rights initiative that has won unprecedented gains for tens of thousands of farmworkers since its implementation in 2010.

Also in 1995, across the country in Los Angeles, young people working for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps organized to form a union, a campaign that led to the take-over of the building in downtown LA where the Corps was housed.  During the course of what would ultimately become a year-long occupation, the workers converted the building into a thriving community center and, as the weeks turned into months, some of the workers began to organize impromptu concerts to animate their friends and fellow workers.  Among the musicians were the original members of the musical group Ozomatli (pictured at the top of the post), and the band they launched in that community center would go on to win two Grammy Awards and one Latin Grammy,  becoming legends of the live music scene in LA and a powerful voice for social justice in the process.  

Fast forward to the present.  Twenty years after their respective beginnings in anonymous struggle — on March 21, 2015, to be exact — the long and unlikely trajectories of those two community movements will finally intersect, as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Ozomatli join forces in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the first ever Concert for Fair Food, calling on Publix and Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program and help advance farmworkers’ human rights!  

After nearly a year of planning, the star-studded lineup for the much-anticipated concert has come together, and we are thrilled to announce that not only will Ozomatli be there, but they will be joined by fellow Grammy winners La Santa Cecilia and Atlanta’s own Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics!  

Here below we have compiled a quick profile of our three headliners.  Take a look and check back in the days ahead for more on the incredible line up of artists and on all the plans for what is sure to be an unforgettable Parade & Concert for Fair Food!

Ozomatli

With multiple Grammys — as well as numerous other awards and recognitions — under its collective belt, Ozomatli has carved out a career as one of the most entertaining and socially-conscious musical groups of this generation.  The seven-piece rock band’s style is an eclectic mix of mostly Latin, hip hop and rock, peppered with salsa, jazz, funk, reggae and more.  They have toured internationally, collaborated with the Boston and New York Pops orchestras, and served as Cultural Ambassadors for the U.S. State Department.  They even headlined the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa in 2013, drawing thousands of loyal fans from the Tampa area as they do wherever the travel these days (and laying the groundwork for what should be a great show later this month!).  But for all their success, Ozomatli’s roots are still firmly planted in their hometown of Los Angeles, where two decades ago a seed was planted in community action and has flowered since into a thriving, musical hybrid of ever-shifting cultural styles and expressions.

La Santa Cecilia

In the past two years, La Santa Cecilia has rocketed to national fame both for their upbeat sound and their commitment to raising consciousness about the struggle and invaluable contributions of immigrant workers in the U.S.  For their full-length studio album, Treinta Días, the group won a Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album in 2014.  Most recently, the group released a thought-provoking music video, covering the Beatles’ classic, “Strawberry Fields Forever,”  as an homage to the workers who harvest one of the country’s most popular fruits.  In the words of the lead singer, Marisol Hernandez:

“It’s a trip that a song that was made by these four Brits turned into something that I feel connected to with migrant workers and the beauty of their work,” Hernández continued. “I guess it’s a way for us to acknowledge their work, and for people to just kind of remember where all our amazing fruit comes from.  It’s so easy to just grab at grocery stores but it comes from somewhere else and it’s always think it’s nice to acknowledge the people behind-the-scenes.”

Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics

Atlanta’s own Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics will open the concert with their original blend of socially-charged Georgia soul.  With roots in Florida, the group has been on the forefront of reviving and reclaiming soul and R&B music in the 21st century, performing everywhere from South by Southwest in Austin to Bluesapalooza in California to the historic Blue Note club in New York.  Their widely-acclaimed single, “It’s About Time,” topped the iTunes R&B charts with over a quarter million downloads.  

With that amazing lineup, we’re ready to pump up the volume on the Campaign for Fair Food — and we hope you’re ready to join us!  If you haven’t had a chance to head over to the Concert website to register, take a moment to do so.  And finally, for your liberal use as you invite all your friends, your family, and your community more widely, here is the official concert poster (compliments of the talented Alec Dempster)!

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Stay tuned for more on the star-studded Concert lineup in the days to come…

Bits and pieces from the Fair Food front as preparations ramp up for next month’s big action!

As we round the bend into the final month of preparations before the Parade and Concert for Fair Food, farmworkers in Immokalee and their allies around the county are keeping the pressure up in the fight for fundamental human rights in the fields!  Here below is a quick round-up of the latest news from the Fair Food front, just enough to hold you over until next week’s big reveal of the lineup of award-winning artists for the March 21 concert. Food Chains still making waves… Though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose a different film to receive the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature this […]

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Wendy’s gets no love from the #FairFoodNation on Valentine’s Day…

Fair Food activists flood Wendy’s with broken-hearted selfies, calls to join the Fair Food Program! Last month, the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) launched a call for a national Valentine’s Day Weekend of Action, demanding that Wendy’s, the final fast-food hold-out, join the award-winning Fair Food Program.  And last weekend, hundreds of members of the exciting new Alliance took the call to action to heart.  From Denver to DC, regional Fair Food Committees broke out the art supplies and unleashed their boundless creativity to make their voices heard inside Wendy’s corporate headquarters once again. The AFF did a wonderful job of compiling all the weekend’s action, and you can […]

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NOW LIVE: Concert & Parade for Fair Food website up and running…

It is that time of year again!  The scent of orange blossoms fills the air and the temperatures are rising here in Florida, while up north, the last snows of the season stubbornly ensnare the world in winter’s icy grip.  That can only mean one thing: Time for the Fair Food Nation to head south and gather with workers from Immokalee for its annual spring action! With just over one month to go before the big Concert & Parade for Fair Food, CIW members and their allies are hitting the road, crisscrossing the state and beyond — touring throughout the Northeast, across the Midwest, […]

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“This Human Rights Group Is A Model For How The U.S. Can End Slave Labor…”

Huffington Post highlights CIW’s Presidential Medal, model for ending slave labor; Wendy’s campaign starts heating up for Valentine’s Day! Today, we bring you two quick hits from the Fair Food front!   First up, the Huffington Post just published an excellent piece on the CIW’s fight to end modern-day slavery, prompted by last month’s big White House news.  The article lays out the unprecedented results of the Fair Food Program, then goes on to break down the model itself, which offers a blueprint for the prevention of slavery, sexual violence, and other systemic abuses in low-wage industries.  Here below is a brief excerpt (though we strongly […]

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Have a heart, Wendy’s! Valentine’s Day Weekend of Action around the corner…

The Fair Food Nation gets creative this Valentine’s Day! Across the country, storefronts are filling up with red hearts, chocolates, and roses.  And, of course, the fast food chain Wendy’s isn’t missing out on the advertising hook, inviting couples to celebrate their romance with an ice-cold frosty or a square burger.   Meanwhile, ever creative in its own right, the Fair Food Nation is crafting its own colorful Valentines message for the reluctant object of its affection.  But rather sending a love note, Fair Food activists are sending Wendy’s a clear call to action: Stop breaking our hearts, Wendy’s!  Join the Fair Food Program! To make […]

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Watch out, Wendy’s! #BootTheBraids “Food Chains” tour hits the road…

Students throughout the Midwest, Northeast readying to Boot the Braids!    Hot on the heels of an exciting first month of the new year for the Fair Food Program (January began with the announcement of the newest Fair Food Agreement and ended with the CIW receiving a presidential medal for its efforts to combat modern-day slavery), the Campaign for Fair Food is hitting the ground running this February!   Earlier this week, the Student/Farmworker Alliance launched a tour across the Midwest and Northeast to call out Wendy’s, the final fast food hold out, for refusing to join the Fair Food Program.  And the Immokalee crew won’t be […]

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Reactions to Presidential Medal nod to CIW history, power of Fair Food Program…

From the mainstream media to the blogosphere to twitter, news of the CIW’s reception of the Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking traveled far and wide last week, and we’ve collected some of the highlights for you here. Let’s start with the Ft. Myers News-Press, the paper of record for the Fair Food movement.  The News-Press went straight to a source — former Chief Assistant US Attorney Doug Molloy — who has not only known the CIW’s work for the better part of two decades but was the prosecutor that helped bring several slavery rings to justice in collaboration with […]

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CIW receives Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts in Combatting Modern-Day Slavery at White House Forum!

Sec. Kerry: “This is an extraordinary accomplishment, and reminds all of us not just of the work that we have to do, but that dedicated individuals, like those here with us today from the Coalition, can strike out against injustice, break down barriers, and make a world of difference.” Yesterday was a landmark day in the history of CIW’s fight for farm labor justice. Twenty years ago, workers rose up in the fields and in the dusty streets of a dirt-poor town by the strange name of Immokalee to demand an end to the systematic violation of their fundamental human rights.  The CIW was born […]

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Wendy’s blocked by Beautiful Bodies; Moyers features Fair Food Program in fight against poverty!

Two wonderful bits of news from the ever-expanding battle for Fair Food… First up, Facebook brings us this remarkable — and remarkably heartwarming — news from the world of music: For anyone unfamiliar with the Beautiful Bodies’ career and music, such a powerful, selfless statement in support of human rights might seem surprising.  But Beautiful Bodies is not your typical rock band.  From the band’s website: When guitarist Thomas Becker approached singer Alicia Solombrino about playing music together, one small thing stood in their way: 4,500 miles to be specific. Becker, a Harvard-educated lawyer, was living in Bolivia, where he was […]

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Media Round-up: The Fresh Market agreement makes some noise!

Given the pace of things in the Campaign for Fair Food these days, the announcement earlier this month of the CIW’s agreement with Fresh Market (the 13th agreement in the ever-expanding Fair Food Program) seems almost like ancient history.   Much has happened in the two weeks since we broke the news of the Fresh Market agreement, including the launch of the new Alliance for Fair Food and the call to action for the big spring Parade and Concert for Fair Food.  But that doesn’t mean that the agreement, and its important new provisions designed to reinforce the structural sustainability of the […]

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SPRING ACTION ANNOUNCED! Join CIW for Fair Food Parade, Concert on March 21st!

“…we are going to continue to stand up for what is right. Fear not, we’ve come too far to turn back… we are not afraid and we shall overcome.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Between the astonishingly powerful film “Selma“ in theaters this month, and the celebrations taking place across the U.S. today, Dr. King’s legacy is all around us.  And his message is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago: The arc of the moral universe may indeed bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend of its own accord.  It takes the creative, untiring action of countless ordinary people […]

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Big, big news out of the Fair Food Nation…

Youth, faith, food movement allies come together under a single flag, form the new Alliance for Fair Food! Student/Farmworker Alliance, Interfaith Action and Just Harvest USA unite in one vibrant, diverse ally network ready for the next phase in the fight for Fair Food… The Alliance for Fair Food is back and better than ever!  But before we tell you about this exciting new development in the Fair Food movement, let’s first take a quick look back at its roots. “There is today a human rights crisis in the fields…” For longtime members of the Fair Food Nation, the Alliance […]

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ANALYSIS: The Fresh Market agreement, the LA Times series, and the preferential option for Fair Food…

Fair Food Program in Florida’s tomato industry points the way for Mexican produce industry out of human rights crisis toward 21st century social responsibility;  The question remains: Given Mexico’s deeper societal problems, is reform even possible? We’d like to begin this post with something a bit different, a real time anecdote straight from the Fair Food Program’s data base.  The data base is a rich, unparalleled compilation of information about he Florida tomato industry compiled over time through worker complaints, interviews, and investigations.  This January 6th, a woman called the CIW, not with a complaint, but with a comment, which happens […]

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BREAKING NEWS: Fresh Market signs Fair Food agreement with CIW!

Fresh Market: “We continuously look for ways to source the best products, and being a part of the FFP helps us to know we are sourcing from growers whose practices are fair and socially responsible…” Agreement breaks important ground with two critical new provisions — increased purchases from Florida growers and commitment to support the Fair Food Standard Council’s work monitoring and enforcing the Fair Food Code of Conduct! We will bring you more analysis of this important new agreement — the thirteenth Fair Food agreement with a major retail food corporation and fourth in the  supermarket industry — in the days […]

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Part Three: A 21st century Christmas Carol for the food industry?…

Business as usual is no longer an option for the US food industry in the face of outrageous human rights violations in Mexico’s produce industry; Food industry leaders must leverage their unequaled purchasing power — reward ethical producers, reject those unwilling to implement real reforms — to raise the bar for human rights in Mexico. Remembering that today is the eleventh day of Christmas (making this third and final series installment still timely)… Before we conclude our three-part series on the LA Times investigation into labor rights violations in Mexico’s fields and its aftermath, a brief recap is in order.  In Part One, we […]

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