CIW joins with Southwest Florida allies in march, vigil for unity…

100+ faith leaders, farmworkers, community members in Naples call for end to division, hate…

Over the weekend, the CIW was proud to stand with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, the SWFL Justice for All Coalition, Collier Freedom, and many other local organizations and individuals in an emotional vigil against hatred and bigotry, joining tens of thousands of people in cities and towns across the country who took to the streets in support of unity and human rights.  Today, we bring you a brief photo report from the beautiful vigil and mile-long march through downtown Naples to the Gulf of Mexico.

Over a hundred community members gathered at Cambier Park in Naples, pausing for a moment of silence before launching the march:

The group proceeded to make its way down one of Naples’ most renowned thoroughfares, 5th Avenue South, carrying messages of solidarity and unity:

One mile later, the crowd poured onto the beach, just as the sun was setting on the Gulf of Mexico, for a brief closing moment of silence and words of gratitude from the march organizers:

The Naples action brought to mind a reflection by Unitarian Universalist pastor Rev. Roger Grugel just a few weeks ago at the service celebrating the end of a monthlong fast by faith leaders in support of farmworker justice.  Rev. Grugel’s reflection, which was on the words and wisdom of Frederick Douglass, was powerful at the time as a reflection on the growing Wendy’s boycott. But in the wake of last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, its message has grown ever more urgent and profound.  We close today’s update with an excerpt from his reflection:

CIW member and farmworker of many decades Andres Saavedra places a flower, attached with a message for Wendy’s, in a tomato bucket filled with other such flowers from farmworkers and allies alike.

… Douglass understood that the struggle for emancipation and equality demanded forceful, persistent, and unyielding agitation. His personal experience of being a slave impressed upon him the brutal nature of slavery, how ingrown and established slavery had become as social structure, and the price it would take to uproot this evil institution. When a young black man solicited his advice on how an African American should lead their life Douglass replied without hesitation: “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!” […]

[…] Douglass understood how righteous anger was necessary for social protest, how it can galvanize us to sacrifice in the name of justice, how it bonds us together, despite our differences, in furtherance of a just cause. Righteous anger gives us the strength to overcome our inhibitions, it gives us the will and emotional strength to stand on a picket line outside of Wendy’s and demand what is right.

But Douglass would also counsel us today that righteous anger is not rage. It is not punitive, but restorative; it focuses not on character of individuals but on the injustice and oppression of social systems. Righteous anger is not focused on the workers or executives at Wendy’s, but on the institution they work for, the system they created that denies workers their basic human rights. Righteous anger is not based in hate, but in redeeming love.

So as we worship and protest today let us feel our justified and righteous anger against the system that exploits and oppresses workers.  Let that system hear our voices loudly and clearly today that we will wait no longer, that we are here to redeem the rights and humanity of farm workers.  But let us also remember that we are here to do much more.  We are here to redeem the minds, hearts, and souls of the oppressors, too, and in the process redeem and heal ourselves and the world.  Friends, our cause is just, may our love be pure.