Thousands join CIW for launch of #FairFoodSisters Campaign in San José, Phoenix during Together Live Tour!

California and Arizona give CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo standing ovation following moving on-stage interview with U.S. Women’s Soccer gold-medalist Abby Wambach…

Last week, CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo took to the stage at two of the country’s historic theaters alongside an impressive lineup of New York Times bestselling authors, Olympic athletes, and other human rights heroes in San José, CA and Phoenix, AZ during the second annual Together Live Tour!  The star-studded group appeared at the City National Civic in the capital of Silicon Valley first, and then the beautiful Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix two nights later.

With the theme of “love stories” at the heart of the tour’s message, each night began with a succession of inspiring accounts of love for oneself, for others, and for community.  Headliners U.S. Women’s Soccer star Abby Wambach and her wife, bestselling author and inspirational speaker, Glennon Doyle, opened up each evening with their own story, followed by award-winning blogger and author Luvvie Ajayi and wellness guru Latham Thomas.

With her trademark mix of sincerity, humor, and wisdom, Glennon introduced the CIW’s segment by remembering her first encounter with Immokalee, recounting her multiple, sometimes hilarious attempts to “love thy neighbor” in an era when hate seems to permeate our country.  Learning about Immokalee, whose landscape is so very different from her own “rich, white neighborhood” of Naples, she recalled deciding to visit with Abby – and having “one of the most-life-changing experiences we’ve ever had” meeting her neighbors, the CIW’s formidable crew of farmworker leaders.

Following a video made by the CIW Women’s Group, inviting the audience to join farmworker women in combating sexual violence, Abby walked on stage to introduce an unexpected guest for the audience: representing the farmworker women of Immokalee, ready to share her own story in person with the Together Live audience, CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo!  In both San José and Phoenix, the surprised audiences broke into enthusiastic applause and took to their feet to welcome Lupe and Natali Rodriguez, her Alliance for Fair Food interpreter, with a standing ovation.

Here’s the full transcript from their on-stage exchange:

Abby: My goodness, where do I begin. Lupe, what is your story?

Lupe: My name is Lupe Gonzalo, and I am an immigrant. But I am also a woman, I am a mother, I am a farmworker. And more than anything, I am a human being.

Like 80% of women working in the fields, I have experienced the sexual violence. When I would come home from work, I carried the weight of my anger. I did not have space in my heart to embrace my children, and much less to love them in the way they so desperately wanted.

Abby: What did you do to change those circumstances?

Lupe: We decided to put an end to the abuses that oppressed us day after day. We decided to no longer be victims, and instead demand the right as women to work free of sexual harassment and violence.

Today, thanks to the Fair Food Program, we’ve eliminated the most extreme abuses in the fields, from violence against women to modern-day slavery.

And the world has taken note. We’ve received the Presidential Medal from President Obama, and we were recognized as “Heroes in the Fight against Modern-day Slavery” by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. These are just two of the moments when the world opened its eyes to the work of our small but strong town of Immokalee.

Today, we do not need to carry the weight of violence on our backs into our homes. We are able to embrace our children with love, without remorse.

Abby: We know that the work is not yet finished. What can we do to support the farmworker women of Immokalee?

Lupe: There are tens of thousands of women still laboring beyond the protections of the Fair Food Program, suffering the same sexual violence and exploitation that I faced before in the fields of Florida.

It is time for all of us to say NO to abuse. And no means no!

And honestly, it is time for us to say YES to respect, to love for our families, to the humanity of women – and yes means yes!

It is time to build a world in which all women can live with dignity, love their children freely, and be respected in the places where they work.

This transformation that we have been creating did not come from only us as farmworkers, but also from the action of millions of supporters. Together, we have the power to make change.

Today, I invite you all to become a Fair Food Sister to stand shoulder to shoulder with women farmworkers. You can sign up now, and share the call with your social networks, with your families, and with your own sisters in your community. Thank you!

Abby: Thank you! On behalf of the Together family, on behalf of our Together community, we want to do everything in our power to help. So go to everyone! This is such an important cause. Thank you for allowing us to meet our neighbors.

Applause exploded from an audience clearly ready to take up their important role in the ongoing struggle for justice in the fields as “Fair Food Sisters”!

Following Lupe, former Senior Policy Advisor at the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. Knatokie Ford, gave her own tale of success as a black woman scientist bridging STEM and society in San José.   Two nights later in Phoenix, the equally accomplished Khalida Brohi, whose work in combating honor killings in Pakistan has been lauded by Forbes, Newsweek, and the Government of Pakistan, followed Lupe’s call to action.  We are incredibly proud to stand among such trailblazers in their fields and fellow leaders in the fight for human rights.

Of course, the story didn’t end on the stage.  After the show, scores of newly-minted Fair Food Sisters approached Lupe at the CIW table to thank Immokalee farmworker women for their strength and resilience.  And that was only the first two nights!  Six stops remain on the whirlwind Together Live Tour:

If you find yourself in one of these cities, buy your ticket today to join us for what is sure to be an incredible night. Stay tuned for more exciting updates from the Fair Food Sisters front!