Parade and Concert for Fair Food Photo Report: Bouncing by the Bay!

[hupso title=”Bouncing by the Bay! Parade & Concert for Fair Food PHOTO REPORT” url=””]


Massive march, music festival lift Campaign for Fair Food higher; Students shock the world with announcement of Wendy’s boycott!

The Fair Food Nation gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida, for Saturday’s big Parade and Concert for Fair Food, and a huge dance party for justice broke out on the shores of Tampa Bay! 


But before the party could get started, the Fair Food activists, who had gathered from across the country and around the state of Florida, had some business to attend to, the business of marching in the streets of St. Petersburg — one of Florida’s fastest-growing and most sophisticated cities — and taking their demand for human rights in the fields to two of the largest food industry companies still refusing to join the Fair Food Program, Publix and Wendy’s.


On Saturday, the Freedom University Singers (four members of which are pictured here below) out of Atlanta, GA, kicked off the first half of the day’s double-billed action with some inspired renditions of Civil Rights Movement standards from atop the lead float.


Their songs lifted the spirits — and the feet — of thousands of marchers who took to the streets of the city with art (including the extraordinary puppet, below, painted in the image of Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick, who is once again waging the battle against Fair Food after calling the shots for Taco Bell as that company’s CEO during the CIW’s four-year boycott), …


… beautiful banners (like this one carried by four members of the remarkable Ohio Fair Food contingent),…


… good old-fashioned, hand-made signs (a fine example raised high here, below) declaring the marchers’ affiliation and demonstrating the broad appeal of the call for Fair Food…


… and finally elaborate floats which, spread out through the length of the Parade, conveyed the Fair Food message to the people of St. Pete along the 3-mile march route (this one communicating the historic gains won in the fields through the Fair Food Program).  


The unseasonably warm southwest Florida sun posed a challenge for the marchers, broken only occasionally by stretches of shade along the way…


… but spirits were high from start to finish, buoyed by the joy of fighting for a proven solution to a long-standing human rights crisis, one that has resulted in concrete, measurable change.  


The people of St. Petersburg were almost uniformly warm and supportive, receiving the Parade with smiles and applause along the way.  Over and over, people would drop whatever they were doing and line the street to greet the marchers, like these workers and diners who poured out of a downtown restaurant to watch the parade go by and show their support.


And as the Parade made its final turn in downtown St. Pete on the way to Vinoy Park and the Concert for Fair Food, one very important onlooker was there to greet them: David Solnit — carpenter, artist, Fair Food ally extraordinaire, and the coordinator of the dauntless team responsible for the spectacular art of the Parade — equipped, as always, with his carpenter’s belt in the event an emergency repair might be necessary. 


Finally, the Parade was over and the Concert for Fair Food — the first-ever Concert for Fair Food — was set to begin, with a lineup that promised an afternoon and evening of live music to remember!  First on the bill was Son Solidario (pictured below), providing the son jarocho music that has been the soundtrack to the Fair Food movement since the Taco Bell boycott. 


Next up was the CIW theater presentation dramatizing the changes taking place on Fair Food Program farms — from the Penny-per-Pound bonus to shade, time clocks in the fields, and protections from pesticides — and the abuses still present on farms outside the Program.


Second on the Concert for Fair Food bill was Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics, whose driving R&B rhythms and penetrating vocals… 


… moved an admiring crowd and kicked off there hours of high-energy music and showmanship to come.


While stagehands prepared the scene for the next act — the incomparable Grammy-winning La Santa Cecilia — CIW members took the stage to thank the crowd for helping make the advances under the Fair Food Program possible and to set the course for the battle ahead to consolidate and expand those advances.  Dona Carmen Esquivel, the CIW’s poet laureate, prepared her own words for the occasion.  Here’s an excerpt:

Como humanos e hijos de la tierra
(As humans and sons and daughters of the earth)
Cultivamos la esperanza de proveer a la familia
(We cultivate the hope of providing for our families)
Algo mas que el alimento del dia
(Something more than the daily bread)
Un legado de respeto y una historia sin abusos
(A legacy of respect and a history without abuse)
Donde la igualdad fuera herencia nuestra
(Where equality might be our inheritance)
Junto a la dicha de nuestra madre naturaleza
(Together with the promise of our mother nature)
De nacer todos con igualdad de valores
(Of being born, all of us, with equal rights)
Y un corazón latente para protegerlos
(And a beating heart to protect those rights)


Members of the Alliance for Fair Food took the stage next, declaring themselves ready for the fight ahead and challenging the audience to join them for the long haul.  


And then, members of the Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) took the stage, en masse, for a very important announcement…


… the launch of a national student boycott of Wendy’s!  Citing Wendy’s recent decision to abandon the Florida tomato industry entirely and turn its back on the human rights advances under the Fair Food Program as the last straw, SFA members promised to use their economic power as the final link in the food market on their campuses to demand, once and for all, that Wendy’s step up to the highest human rights standards in agriculture today, the Fair Food Program.  Check back soon for much more on this exciting new development!


With the student boycott formally launched, it was time to bring the Concert for Fair Food home, time for the second headliner of the day, La Santa Cecilia…


… and their lead singer — and heart and soul — Marisoul, to take the stage.  


The connection between the crowd and the members of La Santa Cecilia, who have made the fight for a fair immigration policy a centerpiece of their music and public presence, was palpable, on and off the stage.


Finally, as the sun began to set on St. Petersburg and the Concert for Fair Food, the time had arrived for the final act of the day — Ozomatli — to step up to the mic…


… and the fabled band did not disappoint, bringing every bit of the energy and excitement that the Fair Food Nation hoped they would ever since the two-time Grammy Award-winning band signed on to perform. 


From the front of the crowd…


… to the back, Ozomatli rocked the house, and made no secret of their support for the CIW and Fair Food!


Befitting such an incredible night, Ozomatli was joined on stage by members of La Santa Cecilia and Son Solidario for the grand finale, a performance of the band’s hit “Como Ves.”


The energy on stage was so high that it not only lifted the artists — literally — off their feet…


… but off the stage, too!  To put a final exclamation mark on an already unforgettable day, the band jumped off the stage and led the audience on a musical march, instruments and all…


… that ended in a raucous rhythm jam in the middle of the park, a powerful finish to a truly historic day.  


Finally, check out the video below for a feel of the final moments of the first-ever Concert for Fair Food!