Part One: “Boot the Braids” Truth Tour makes a splash along the East Coast!

Hundreds of students, people of faith and community leaders in Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Philadelphia, New Brunswick and New York prepare to support student-led effort to boot Wendy’s off campuses this fall…

Last week, farmworker leaders of the CIW and student organizers with the Student/Farmworker Alliance wrapped up a two-week journey through six major cities along the East Coast, drawing to a close the first leg of the summer series of “Boot the Braids” Truth Tours.  With a full schedule of meetings and presentations with students, religious leaders, community-based organizations and city council members, the team of Fair Food organizers engaged a newly-energized base of hundreds of consumer allies, ready to mobilize around the Wendy’s Boycott in communities from Charlotte, North Carolina, to New York City. 

To give you a taste of the tour and the team’s time on the road, we are happy to share a report from the Fair Food organizers themselves.  Enjoy, and check back soon for news from the second leg of this summer’s big, countrywide Boot the Braids Truth Tour: 

On June 23, after making the long trek from the small town of Immokalee to one of North Carolina’s largest cities, Charlotte, the Truth Tour team was received by our friends at Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, who gave us a proper southern welcome to the Queen City (this on the very day CIW was honored with the “Movement Maker” Award at the United Church of Christ  General Synod). After a day of productive meetings, including a sit-down with the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s dining administration to discuss Wendy’s refusal to protect farmworkers’ human rights through the Fair Food Program, we gathered with leaders of North Carolina AFL-CIO and Action NC, as well as committed  community allies, for a screening of the James Beard Award-winning documentary “Food Chains”. Following the film, CIW’s Oscar Otzoy led a lively discussion centered around the human rights revolution transforming America’s fields under the protections of the Fair Food Program.

The inspired allies of Charlotte following the Food Chains screening.

The Tour crew then headed two hours northeast to Chapel Hill, where we  jumped right into back-to-back meetings with UNC Chapel Hill students, Triangle Area faith leaders, and local government leaders to ramp up support for the student-led campaign to kick Wendy’s off UNC’s campus. Still energized from the momentous 4 for Fair Food Tour stop in Chapel Hill this March, students and community members alike are making plans for an action-packed fall to demand UNC cut its contract with Wendy’s. 

And, for just a taste of what the fall is going to look like on UNC’s campus, take a moment to enjoy the video from the inaugural march of the 4 for Fair Food Tour!

After a week on the road, we made our way to the City of Brotherly Love for a series of meetings and presentations with Philly’s youth and grassroots organizations, including Youth United for Change, Penn for Immigrant Rights, Student Labor Action Project, Black and Brown Workers Cooperative and Juntos.  All of these groups have committed to work alongside Temple Student/Farmworker Alliance to demand the University stop doing business with Wendy’s as  long as the hamburger giant remains the lone major fast-food holdout. We wrapped up our time in Pennsylvania with an exclusive online interview for Philatinos Radio, where Oscar joined Cristina Perez, Community Outreach Director at Women Organizing Against Rape, to discuss the Fair Food Program’s unique success in combatting and preventing sexual violence in the fields and growing support for the Wendy’s Boycott across the country.   

The first “Boot the Braids” Truth Tour of the summer came to a rousing close with its final days split between the college town of New Brunswick, NJ and bustling New York City!  In the Big Apple, we met up with key members of the city’s diverse social justice community, including Poor People’s Campaign NY, Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm, Make the Road NY, T’ruah, to just name a few. 

The Tour crew catches a photo with a new community of Fair Food supporters at the KCC Urban Farm.
CIW’s Oscar Otzoy (left) talking to Fair Food supporters at the KCC Urban Farm.

We also stopped by the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, the former home of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, for a round-table discussion with Hunter College and Fordham University students on how farmworkers in Immokalee are now rewriting labor history for tens of thousands of agricultural workers in the U.S. through the Fair Food Program.  All who attended left inspired to continue fighting for a national human rights movement that encompasses farmworkers’ voices, including the Tour crew’s youngest member, 4-year-old Oliver Otzoy! 

Finally, one state over, in New Jersey, we met up with Rutgers students, who are eager to kick off a Boot the Braids Campaign on their campus, and demand that their university stop doing business with Wendy’s. Throughout the tour, one thing became very clear: while Wendy’s spends untold millions trying to get young people to spend our money in their restaurants, students and community allies will keep raising our voices for farmworkers’ human rights.  And our voices will only grow louder until Wendy’s does the right thing and joins the Fair Food Program — like all the other fast-food industry leaders did years ago.

And with that, we’ll call it a wrap! Next up, we’re heading to the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University to mobilize even more students and communities for the fast-growing student movement to Boot the Braids from college campuses across the country. ¡Si se puede!