“Enslave one of us, you enslave us all!”

The CIW’s 2009 Year of the Worker party was a serious affair this year, the message of community solidarity with workers held in modern-day slavery setting the tone for a moving day-long gathering outside the CIW’s new community center in Immokalee.

But, of course, the serious message was accompanied by some serious music, too, like the traditional tunes of this trio by the name of Los Herederos de Hidalgo.

It was the biggest Year of the Worker party yet, with well over 2,000 people making their way through the event over the course of the day…

… a day that began before noon and lasted into the night!

As the party began, workers who hadn’t already signed the petition to Governor Crist — calling on the governor to meet with the CIW to discuss ways he can help end forced labor and the very worst forms of exploitation in Florida’s fields — lined up at the petition table…

… to add their names to those of well over 4,000 other Immokalee workers. The petition will be delivered to Governor Crist on Monday, March 9th, in Tallahassee.

The party’s message was reinforced by members of the Collier County Sheriff’s Department’s Anti-Human Trafficking unit, longtime CIW allies in the local battle against slavery, …

… who followed their presentation by distributing educational materials on the most fundamental right of all workers — freedom from forced labor.

Also on display during the course of the day were the many faces of the CIW’s organizing work in Immokalee, including the CIW’s marimba group, playing the recently acquired traditional instrument of Guatemala and southern Mexico…

… members of the women’s organizing committee, addressing the daily struggles faced by women who not only work in the fields but often raise families and confront the myriad challenges posed by living in a world where men are 90% of the population…

… the CIW’s low-power radio station, Radio Conciencia, which was key to promoting the party over the past several weeks…

… and the CIW’s Central Committee, who provided security, coordination, and information for the event (shown here is the Information Committee, staffing the petition table).

And central to the day’s program was music, provided by half a dozen groups, all at no cost, as their contribution to the campaign to end human rights abuses in the fields.

The groups included Alinses de la Sierra

Sentimiento Oaxaca

La Huella de Oaxaca

… and annual crowd favorites, Oscuridad de la Sierra.

After a long day, it was time to put your feet up and just enjoy the tunes, check out the crowd, and take pride in being part of a community coming together to demand respect for the dignity of labor.