Modern-Day Slavery Museum Northeast Tour Days Twelve and Thirteen, New England

Aug. 7-8, 2010

After a powerful Day Eleven of bi-continental Ahold actions, the tour crew continued its blitz through New England, making four stops in just two days.
The first stop was at the largest of Providence’s numerous farmers markets — the Hope Street Market — where community members gather every Saturday during the season to buy fresh produce from local farmers and to meet up with friends.


This week’s shoppers not only found local heirloom tomatoes but also the truth behind Florida’s plantation-scale tomato industry. With produce and fresh-cut flowers in hand, a steady stream of Providence residents visited the museum to learn more about the dire situation facing farmworkers in Florida’s fields.
Inspired by the growing number of their students involved in the Campaign for Fair Food, Brown University media (pictured above) was there to document the morning’s activities.



Among the visitors was one very special guest — the 96-year-old grandfather of museum docent Brigitte Gynther — who made the climb into the box truck to see the exhibit up close and personal.

The second stop for the day was at a prime location in the middle of downtown Providence, facing Kennedy Plaza and right next to City Hall.
The site also happens to be a central transportation hub for Rhode Island, which ensured a non-stop mix of museum-goers, from local residents waiting for the bus to planned visits by the Olneyville Neighborhood Association, Cleanwater Action, and DARE, among other allies.


Students were on hand for the afternoon visit, as well, including these volunteers from Brown who ably staffed the ever-busy information table.


Likewise, there was a strong support from the labor movement. Above, George Nee (right), President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, and James Celenza, director of Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, tour the museum.

And, of course, our friends from Rhode Island Jobs with Justice joined us to plan for the future of the Ahold campaign.
The next morning the museum crew set up in an absolutely picturesque location at the St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Newton, MA, next to Boston College.
St. Ignatius offers three Masses on Sunday mornings, and following each service, dozens of parishioners filed out of the church and toured the waiting museum.
It wasn’t only parishioners who welcomed the museum’s presence. The Jesuit priest who presided over Sunday Mass displayed a wonderful spirit of hospitality and warmth throughout the morning.


Finally, the whirlwind two-day stretch concluded with a stop in Salem, MA, where the CIW enjoys something of a hometown hero status. As readers of this site may recall, in May 2009, Lucas Benitez and Gerardo Reyes accepted the 17th Annual Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justiceon behalf of the CIW.
In their own words, “The Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice is given each year to keep alive the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and to recognize those who are speaking out and taking action to alleviate discrimination and promote tolerance.”

A year later, award committee members received the Modern-Day Slavery Museum as it set up in the heart of Salem’s historic district.


And in a stroke of fortuitous timing, the museum was featured as part of Salem’s Heritage Festival, an annual event that attracts visitors from across New England. The historically-minded setting provided an opportunity for hundreds of consumers to learn about the heritage not only of their region, but of their food system and the unbroken chain of exploitation that has underlied it for four centuries.