January 30, 2013
In just over one month from today, workers from Immokalee and their allies from across the state and the country will begin a two-week, 175-mile march from Ft. Myers to Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. The marchers will be calling on Publix to join the CIW's Fair Food Program, the groundbreaking system of human rights standards, worker-to-worker education, and market-based enforcement mechanisms that is transforming Florida's tomato fields into a model for social responsibility in the US produce industry.
And, as of today, we are happy to announce that the march route is complete! All the stops, protests, community meetings and day-to-day mileage counts are set (subject to a few last minute tweaks here and there, of course...). What's more, we are able to share the route with you, via the magic of Google Maps.
So check out the interactive map above and click on the pins and green flags for all the stops and a few of the highlights of the two-week trek. You'll find a thumbnail description of Sunday's big kickoff event in Ft. Myers at Jesus Obrero/Jesus the Worker Catholic Church (March 3rd), initial details for the final weekend of the march in Lakeland (March 16-17), and brief descriptions of events at several points in between. Then make your own plans to join us -- for a few miles, a day, a weekend, or for the whole two weeks! Of course, we'll do whatever we can to facilitate your participation, so if you are thinking of attending any or all of the march, don't hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
Excitement is building along the route already, with communities organizing for the marchers' arrival. Here below is an example of the groundwork taking place in communities along the entire 175-mile route, this one from Charlotte County, just north of Ft. Myers:
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Branch 5093, Punta Gorda, FL
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, assisted by Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida, for many years has been struggling to improve the working and living conditions of farm workers. They have been supported in these efforts by many individuals, groups, organizations and religious communities, including here in Charlotte County. Perhaps your congregation or organization is among them.
In this 21st century, the CIW has won many victories but final security has not yet been achieved. The most significant resistance today to winning their goals of safe working conditions, fair wages, protection from physical and sexual abuse, and adequate housing comes from the top of the food chain, the large super market chains due to their great purchasing power. One of the most significant of these is Publix.
While there have been many demonstrations, protest marches and other efforts to get Publix to meet with CIW representatives, so far this has not happened. More concerted means are needed. For example, if all those in Charlotte County who support the CIW would act in concert rather than individually, we would speak with a louder voice.
An opportunity to do so now presents itself. Early in March, CIW marchers will walk from Immokalee to Lakeland, where the Publix headquarters are located. It is expected that the marchers will be in Charlotte on March 5 and 6.
And so, you are invited to help organize such a concerted effort in this area. A committee is being formed to seek the best way to take advantage of this opportunity. Some 25 congregations of various denominations, representatives of social action organizations and individuals have been invited. We would like to meet with you or your representatives to discuss this proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 1 pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1532 Forrest Nelson Blvd., Port Charlotte. Please let us know how many may be coming. Email: Zawistowskitl@embarqmail.com or phone 941-625-3186.
Rev. Louis C. Anderson, President
Ted Zawistowski, NAACP Board
Check back soon for much more as the organizing for the March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food ramps up in earnest in the weeks ahead!