To commemorate the CIW’s Silver Anniversary, help us raise $50,000 by the end of 2018!

Dear friends,

25 years ago, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers was born in a series of community meetings, held in a cramped, corner room in the back of Immokalee’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.  The arc of the CIW’s history since those early days – from those modest first meetings to the CIW’s leading role today on the global human rights stage – is nothing short of miraculous.

Each day this week, we will be commemorating the CIW’s extraordinary quarter-century of history. We will trace its trajectory from the early strikes and marches in Immokalee’s dusty streets, to the remarkable present-day success of the award-winning Fair Food Program and the groundbreaking Worker-driven Social Responsibility paradigm.

The truth is, farmworkers never could have traveled that path, and achieved that success, without you.  Without the unwavering alliance of tens of thousands of people across the nation year after year, the unprecedented human rights protections in fields today – the uprooting of forced labor and sexual violence, the end of systemic wage theft, the guarantee of shade and water in the fields, the right of workers to speak up without losing their job – would never have come to fruition.

In these final weeks of 2018, we invite you to celebrate with us.  

More importantly, we invite you to help us lay the foundation for 25 more years of transformational change in the lives of workers and communities around the world:  Farmworkers with CIW need your help to raise $50,000 by the end of the year, so we can launch the Fair Food movement into the next stage of its visionary journey.

Because, from the very beginning, we have been nothing if not a movement of visionaries.

Twenty-one years ago to the day, in one of the most powerful CIW actions in our 25-year history, six farmworkers readied themselves to fast, for as long as it would take, in pursuit of one simple demand: Dialogue.  Tired of decades of grinding poverty, beatings, and rampant sexual harassment, farmworkers in Immokalee had already begun organizing several years before when, on the week before Christmas, 1997, they launched their hunger strike.  Left with little else to express their urgent call for justice, farmworkers put their own bodies on the line, for the simple right to have their voices heard at work in the decisions that shaped their lives.

Thirty long and painful days later, including the hospitalization of one faster, the fasters received a letter from former President Jimmy Carter, a basic, public letter urging Florida’s growers to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers at the table of dialogue.  But despite President Carter’s intervention, as well as that of many more religious and political leaders, the growers stubbornly refused.  And so, having amplified their cry for simple justice not only throughout the state of Florida, but across the nation, the six farmworkers broke their fast in the warm embrace of hundreds of supporters in a standing room only ceremony at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in the neighboring town of Naples.  Bishop John Nevins – a deeply beloved leader of the Florida Catholic Church who lived his faith by walking shoulder-to-shoulder with his community’s most impoverished members – blessed the fasters and gave them communion, which became their first taste of food in over a month.

Bishop John Nevins blessing farmworker hunger strikers at the end of the strike in 1998.

Over those thirty days of sacrifice and witness – fully fourteen years before the groundbreaking Fair Food Program would be formally launched in partnership with Florida’s tomato growers – the CIW planted the seeds for what would become the Fair Food Program.  Indeed, whispers of the story that would one day come to pass could be heard in the prescient words of the CIW’s Lucas Benitez, who addressed supporters that night at the ceremony breaking the fast at St. Ann’s: “We, too, have a dream… that one day we will sit, hand-in-hand, workers and growers all together in one community.”

Just like farmworkers and their earliest allies in the 1990s, we need you to join us in envisioning a more humane agricultural industry today, not just for those tens of thousands of farmworkers who currently enjoy the Fair Food Program’s protections, but for the more than one million more farmworkers across the country who continue to suffer violence, abuse, and humiliation in the fields every day.  Join us in building the future of the Fair Food movement by helping to reach our $50,000 goal by the end of the year.  Please donate today and share CIW’s 25th Anniversary Fundraiser far and wide!