Day 2: Rain, cold fail to dampen marchers’ spirits as farmworkers, allies move one day closer to march goal, one giant leap closer to new world of farmworker freedom!

Marchers met new challenges on their 5-day, 50-mile route to the island of Palm Beach yesterday in the form of rain and unseasonably cold weather, but rose to meet the challenges of the day with enthusiasm and an unwavering commitment to their twin goals of celebrating more than a decade of unprecedented human rights progress under the Fair Food Program and calling on retail food giants Wendy’s, Kroger, and Publix to do their part to help end modern-day slavery and other extreme abuses in the US agricultural industry.

Palm Beach Daily News: “Over 80% of farmworker women in this country report experiencing sexual harassment and assault, but not on Fair Food Program farms. Forced labor prosecutions are surging in the South today, but not on Fair Food Program farms. And systemic wage theft, dangerous working conditions, and harsh verbal abuse are the daily bread of tens of thousands of farmworkers from here to California, but not on Fair Food Program farms.” Lupe Gonzalo, CIW

WGCU FM (National Public Radio, Ft. Myers): “I think we have to respect where our food comes from and to (give) justice to the people that harvest it for us,” Montavan said. He had this to say to Wendy’s, Publix, and Kroger: “It’s time to join the program and do justice to the people that bring your food to your stores.”  Matt Montavan, marcher, Sarasota

Another day, another 12 miles of progress as marchers neared the halfway mark in their 50-mile, 5-day journey from the sugar cane fields of Pahokee to the exclusive island enclave of Palm Beach. But while the two days covered the same distance, the marchers’ experience covering those 12 miles couldn’t have been more different.  

While Tuesday’s launch of the Build a New World March began in the shadow of the abandoned labor camp where workers were housed and held against their will in Florida’s most recent forced labor prosecution — harvesting watermelons that, according to the Department of Labor, were sold in part to the supermarket giant Kroger — Wednesday’s leg made noticeable progress away from the isolated inland community of Pahokee and toward the heavier trafficked, coastal city of West Palm Beach, with cars and trucks honking their approval and filming the colorful march with their phones as they drove by in the adjoining lane.  And while Day 1 of the march took place under a strong South Florida sun that left many marchers squeezing in shoulder-to-shoulder under shade tents during the day’s occasional breaks, Day 2 greeted the marchers with a steady, cold rain that likewise sent marchers searching for precious space under the tents during lunch and water breaks, but this time seeking shelter from the wet weather rather than the scorching sun. 

And through it all, marchers kept their spirits high, buoyed by the arrival of bilingual hip-hop artist and activist — and friend of the CIW for over 20 years — Olmeca, whose live performances and deejay contributions on the sound truck throughout the day kept marchers moving, happy, and thinking across every step of the day’s 12 miles; and by the participation of many of the younger allies on the march, in particular the high school students from Mississippi who traveled with their teacher to join all five days of the march, and who found their voices on Day 2 as they led chants and spoke of the reasons why they traveled half way across the country to support farmworkers from Florida fighting for fundamental human rights. 

As always, we have all the highlights from Day 2 here below, including a new video, photo gallery, and a round-up of all the day’s media.  And check back in tomorrow for the news from Day 3 as we continue our journey from Pahokee to Palm Beach!

Day 2 CIW Video:

Day 2 CIW Photo Gallery:

Day 2 Media Round-up:

WGCU Video: