It’s been an action-packed few days in New York City!

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CIW honored in historic St. James Episcopal Church with Freedom from Want medal; 100+ turn out at New York Wendy’s action!

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It has been a whirlwind of activity these past couple of days in New York — such a whirlwind, in fact, that we have not had a free moment to share an update on all of the exciting things happening!  Rest assured, however, that we will send along a full update as soon as possible, with a complete report on both the stirring Four Freedoms Awards ceremony (above) and the high-spirited march from Union Square to the 14th Street Wendy’s (below):  

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So, for now, take these two pictures as a down payment on a complete update to come, and enjoy this excerpt from a report on the Roosevelt ceremony from Bill Moyers and Company, entitled “A Hopeful Night for Roosevelt’s Vision of Freedom”:

The Four Freedoms – freedom of speech and worship and freedom from want and fear – were first described by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his now famous 1941 State of the Union address, when America’s entrance into World War II was less than a year away. Much of Europe had fallen to the advancing German army and Britain faced invasion. Many Americans felt we should continue to stay out of the fight, but Roosevelt believed that by helping the British people, the United States stood in defense of universal freedoms possessed by all. In the speech he said, “Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.”

Today, the Four Freedom Medals are given to laureates whose lives and work exemplify Roosevelt’s vision. “The Four Freedoms Address succinctly expresses what democracy is all about,” Anna E. Roosevelt, chair of the Roosevelt Institute’s board of directors, said. “My grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, believed this, worked for it and lived it. It is, to this day, a rousing call to action and an enduring message of hope for people all over the world.”

The Four Freedoms Medals have been awarded annually since 1963. Previous laureates include President Clinton, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi and Bill Moyers.

The other 2013 winners are: economist Paul Krugman, violence “interrupter” Ameena Matthews, NETWORK director Sister Simone Campbell, and the Coalition of  Immokalee Workers.

The Moyers & Company team attended the event and spoke with the laureates about their hopes and fears — and how the Four Freedoms have been embodied in their work…

…  Coalition of Immokalee Workers – Freedom of Want

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) received the Freedom from Want medal for their efforts to improve labor conditions for Florida’s agricultural workers. The CIW is behind a new model for labor relations in the agricultural industry, which includes giving farm workers a voice in shaping their work environment. “We hope that one day every farm worker in this nation is treated with respect and paid in a fair way for the heavy work that they do every day,” said Gerardo Reyes-Chavez, an organizer with the CIW. “We hope that the buyers of tomatoes continue to work with us to improve conditions even more. For the first time, we have been able to have a voice at the table through our “fair food program,” which consists of a wage increase for workers and a human-rights-based code of conduct, applicable throughout the Florida tomato industry. We have agreements with 11 corporations who buy tomatoes in Florida, including McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway. Now we have a voice at the table and can talk about eliminating the roots of the problems that we face, not only in economic terms but also in [terms of] the balance of power.”  (Related: Do You Know Where Your Tomatoes Come From?)

Check back soon for more from the Big Apple!

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