A note on the events of the past week…

Members of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, pictured during a hearing earlier this month, sit beneath an image of a noose and gallows erected by protesters outside the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. The insurrectionists chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” during the hours-long, violent attack, animated by the false and unconstitutional premise — vigorously promoted by then-President Trump and others — that the Vice President had the power to effectively reverse the outcome of the election and allow President Trump to remain in power against the will of the people, but refused to use that power to carry out the attempted coup. The hearings have revealed the scope, methods and leaders of a vast criminal conspiracy designed to enable a small minority of Americans to seize political power and impose their extremist agenda on the rest of the country.

There are no two ways about it: For those of us working to build a more free, safe, and democratic world, the events of this past week have been a dizzying flurry of punches to the head and body politic.  The barrage of far-reaching Supreme Court decisions, on the one hand, and deeply disturbing revelations from the January 6th hearings, on the other, may have been foreseeable for months — even years, now — but to watch it all unfold over the past several days has been no less horrifying for the anticipation. 

The unvarnished attack on our rights, and on the very foundations of our democracy, led by a small but powerful minority seemed to quite suddenly come to a peak this past week in a flood of headlines that has laid bare the extent to which unabashedly anti-democratic forces have radicalized the political dialogue — and process — in our country.  Stripped away now is any pretense that, despite our differences, we all share a common love for our democracy, for the principles of equality and freedom on which it was founded and which have served as guiding lights in our 250 years of evolution toward an ever “more perfect union,” and for our fellow countrymen and women.  Instead, we watch as the details of a vast criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election through violence and rank political schemes are revealed, those revelations serving as the backdrop to a steady stream of Supreme Court decisions that — made by a court now, and for years to come, dominated by justices chosen by the very leaders of that conspiracy — strip essential rights and protections that have made our country safer and more fair for generations. 

And perhaps most disconcerting of all is the growing sense that the worst is not yet behind us, not by a long-shot. The full scope of the anti-democratic agenda on the horizon has come into stark focus this week, and it is increasingly clear that we will face an even darker and more difficult road ahead if nothing is done to reset the balance.

As demoralizing as this historic assault on democracy and human rights of recent years can be, however, this much is also clear: If there is to be any hope of defending and expanding human rights in the years to come, now is the time to re-invest in our communities and precious human rights movements.  Reaffirming your support for effective, community-driven work like the Fair Food Program – whether it’s joining farmworkers in the streets or organizing in your own community for human rights in the fields – will be critical as we forge ahead and work together to preserve and protect the dignity of all.

Our movements are our power.  It has never been more important than now to return to that base and build our power for the battles that lie ahead.

There is a great deal more to say, of course, as the ripple effects of this historic week unfold and the agenda of those who would dismantle our democracy continues to make itself manifest.  We will undoubtedly return to this topic in the days to come.  But for now, in the spirit of refusing to give in to paralysis or despair, we pledge to redouble our efforts to expand respect for human rights in Immokalee and across the country – today and in the months and years ahead. 

As we have said from the very start of our own fight to end generations of poverty, exploitation and abuse in the fields nearly thirty years ago:

Consciousness + Commitment = Change. 

So, let us now be clear-eyed and awake to the rising tide of injustice around us, and reaffirm our commitment to keeping our communities — and our country — safe, fair, and free from the coming flood.  If we stay that course, we will not only preserve the change we have fought for, and won, for all these years, we will continue to grow it and expand the vision of universal human rights that drives our movement, storm or no storm. 

Indeed, there are two ways for a fighter to react when caught by a punch: Get knocked out, or wake the hell up. Here in Immokalee, we will never be knocked out.