SAVE THE DATES
- Apr. 1-5: Yearly Meeting
photo: by Liz Jenkins
Almost 30 Friends from Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Orlando Meetings joined Farmworkers and their supporters for the Concert & March for Fair Food in St. Petersburg on March 21st. Organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Fair Food Campaign to raise consumer's awareness of Farm Labor Justice issues, the March and Concert drew crowds estimated in the thousands. Friends who met up at the St. Pete meetinghouse marched together as a Quaker contingent, carrying banners & signs on the 3-mile route through downtown St. Pete. Orlando Friends who arrived later marched with the CIW, meeting up with the Quaker group at Vinoy Park. Cece Yocum writes "...it was three miles and it was about 85 degrees. It took two hours because we slowed down in front of Wendy's and the Publix stores. There were numerous police surrounding Publix."
Arriving at Vinoy Park;photo: Liz Jenkins. Lou, Cece & Karen from Tampa; photo:Cece Yocum.
Liz Jenkins writes: "My overall impression of the parade was that it was a genuinely peaceful demonstration (unlike some I have been on), very united and rich and that it prompted a lot of positive interest from a wide variety of people along the way. At the celebration, it was striking to see the farmworkers families really enjoying the park, the music and relaxing together, as well as sharing their story and their goals. After walking three miles in pretty warm weather carrying a sign almost as big as myself, I was reminded how very hard the farmworkers work.
Cece adds that the crowd "appeared to be a wide cross section of the U.S., with people of many different ethnic groups and age...Besides 4 year old Henry and his parents Josh and Sarah from St. Pete, a whole bunch of parents with strollers or parents carrying their children walked in front of us. One mother had come all the way from Washington, D.C., just for this. On the other end of the age spectrum were some quite elderly supporters."
Prior to the march, Friends gathered at the St. Petersburg meetinghouse to meet with Eileen Flanagan, Clerk of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), who explained how the involvement of SEYM youth and support from the Yearly Meeting helped turn the tide in getting PNC to back down from investing in mountain top removal. She noted how youth can bring excitement to a movement; and that was certainly in evidence at the March for Fair Food. "Just listening to Lis and Kate you can see and hear their enthusiasm, which was contagious!" writes Cece Yocum (see videos below). SEYM youth will be continuing their work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).
Various Quaker organizations worked together to create a successful and visible Quaker presence in the parade. SEYM Teen Clerk Kate Sundberg received a grant from Circus McGurkis to design and print 30 "Quakers Support Fair Food" t-shirts, with permission from the Fair Food Alliance to use the new Fair Food logo. This set of dark green t-shirts represents a "lending library" for Fair Food actions ... they were used for the St Pete parade and then collected to be used in future Fair Food Actions." St. Pete Friends provided hospitality for SEYM Quakers, as well as space and support for building CIW floats for the march.
L: SEYM teens made a great banner; photo: Cece Yocum. R: Miguel & Liz from Orlando.
L: Farmworkers speak at concert; photo: Liz J.
Building floats at St. Pete Meeting; photos: K. Putney