Days Four and Five Photo Report:
Port Charlotte to Venice

Faces of the March

Days Four and Five of the March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food saw the marchers add another 28 miles to their total, hold a theater presentation for allies in North Port, stage an impromptu soccer match on tired legs in Venice, and continue to take their Fair Food message directly to thousands of drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and business people along Florida's most heavily traveled west coast business route, Hwy 41.

But as the first week of the march winds to a close, rather than tell the story of the past two days as we usually do, we thought we might do something a little different. Instead, we wanted to bring you a closer look at the marchers themselves, to share with you portraits of some of the core marchers who will be doing the entire 200-mile trek, of the workers and their allies whose commitment and sacrifice make up the backbone of this amazing collective creature that has come to life and is making its way up Florida's coast, step by step.

So, check out the:

Also, here below in its entirety is a letter to the editor of the Sarasota Herald Tribune by longtime CIW ally Rabbi Jonathan Katz, published this morning ahead of the march's arrival in Sarasota this weekend. It's a great read:

Workers seek fairness

For most of us, the labor conditions Florida tomato pickers endure and the low wages they receive are a case of out of sight, out of mind. This is why the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is spearheading a "March for Rights, Respect & Fair Food," a two-week, 200-mile journey on foot from Fort Myers to Lakeland.

When the marchers arrive in the Sarasota area this weekend, they and their local supporters will seek to bring greater awareness to their cause, share their indomitable spirit and walk picket lines at two Publix locations.

While other major food providers such as Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market, Aramark, Sodexo, McDonald's, Subway, Burger King and Chipotle have all found a way to pay tomato pickers an extra penny per pound for their arduous work, and agreed to ensure their recourse to rights monitors rather than be subject to termination for reporting harassment and abuse, Publix refuses to do so.

In fact, Publix executives will not deign to meet with CIW representatives about the issue.

Having visited Immokalee and seen firsthand the impoverished conditions, I and others have joined CIW's righteous cause.

CIW protests are unfailingly civil. There is never unruly behavior, threatening words or profanity. Rather, a positive and uplifting feeling of shared struggle pervades them. This will be on display when the march ends at Publix's corporate headquarters in Lakeland.

As long as Publix won't even consider sitting down with CIW, the company's position lacks merit.

Rabbi Jonathan R. Katz

And, finally, as the march continues, you can find all the daily wrap-ups right here: