The first few days of orientation here at the NFWM office for Blake and I were filled with educational activities, training sessions, and thought-provoking discussion about the current state of the struggle for farmworker rights. Some of the topics we learned about include:
- Cesar Chavez and the start of the farmworker movement: Formation of the UFW; The nationwide grape boycott in the late 60’s.
- Labor camp working and living conditions: Dangers of pesticide exposure; Dangers of dehydration and heat exhaustion; Abysmal living quarters.
- The current system of H2A and H2B workers and the issues that come with such programs, for example blacklisting;
- FLOC and how the NFWM partnership operates;
- Economic statistics on national as well as NC farmworkers;
- The significance of tying together communities of faith with farmworker communities
Overall, my first week was engaging, educational, and fun! I am more determined than ever to help our farmworkers attain the rights they deserve.
Supporters of human rights and justice joined the National Farm Worker Ministry and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Friday May 7, 2010 where Reynolds Tobacco held its annual shareholders meeting.
More than 30 farm worker supporters gained access to the meeting by purchasing a share of the company’s stock or by representing someone, through a proxy, who owned one. These included several NFWM staff and Youth and Young Adult Network (YAYA) members from Florida.
Those inside used the question and answer period to create a dominating presence inside the meeting, giving voice to the real human rights situation for tobacco farm workers in the fields of North Carolina. At the conclusion of the meeting, Rev. Carlton Eversley, President of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem led the group out singing a civil-rights spiritual.
March 31, the 83rd anniversary of Cesar Chavez’s birth, couldn’t have been a better day to march in solidarity with tobacco farmworkers. In the cool morning, a group gathered in rural Tobaccoville, North Carolina. The air was thick with roasting tobacco from Reynolds’ massive processing plant. Overlooking the miles of fence surrounding the plant, we put our feet to the pavement and began our 15 mile march along the country road.
For the full report from our North Carolina organizer, Alexandria Jones, and a reflection on the day from participant Andrew Trump, CLICK HERE
To view a photostream of the March 31 march for farmworkers, CLICK HERE.
Join NFWM & FLOC on Wednesday, March 31 when the North Carolina Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace is in the Winston-Salem area to support farm workers. Walk to celebrate Cesar Chavez’s birthday. Walk to honor the men, women & children who plant & harvest our food. Walk to remember farm workers who’ve died in the fields. Walk to demand justice for farm workers who pick Reynolds’ Tobacco.
You can join the march at any point. The 15 mile walk begins at 8:30 am across the street from Reynolds’ tobacco processing plant in Tobaccoville and finishes at 5:00 pm at the Reynolds headquarters in downtown Winston-Salem. The day ends with dinner and a foot washing ceremony at Green Street United Methodist Church at 6:00pm.
CLICK HERE for a map with details for the day, including all stops, activities, and walking time estimates.
Click on Flyer image for the Walk with FLOC Pilgrimage Flyer.
On May 6th, NFWM, FLOC, farm workers and other allies gathered in Winston Salem, NC for a day of actions during the annual shareholders meeting of Reynolds Tobacco (RAI). We were there to tell Reynolds’ management and shareholders that farm workers are stakeholders too!
The day began with a brief prayer service outside of Reynolds led by Kevin Todd, Duke Divinity Field Education Intern at NFWM NC. Together, they read the Litany, “Give us hope in a new day in which all women and men will know justice, peace, equality, and love; A new day when we will no longer need to gather to STRUGGLE for justice but will gather to CELEBRATE justice.”
The Annual Shareholders Meeting of Reynolds Tobacco (RAI) will be held on Wednesday, May 6 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As these decision-makers for Reynolds Tobacco meet, the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM), the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and farm worker supporters will be there to tell Reynolds’ management and shareholders that farm workers are stakeholders too!
JOIN US ON MAY 6TH. FLYER WITH MAP HERE.
For more information about the FLOC/Reynolds Tobacco Campaign, click here.
To celebrate Farmworker Awareness Week in North Carolina, Alexandria (Alex) Jones gave the reflection during the Sunday service at Caledonia UMC in Laurinburg, made presentations to students from the Struggle & Hope Course at Salem College in Winston-Salem and from the Wesley Foundation at NC State University in Raleigh and she attended the Church Women United of NC’s State Meeting. Alex also participated in some of the numerous events organized by Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF).
You can read Alex’s reflection, Building Bridges, Not Walls, given at Caledonia UMC.
Thirteen students from the University of Florida – Gainesville spent their spring break in North Carolina learning about and supporting farm workers and interacted with young people in North Carolina who are active in the farm worker movement. The week of action and education was organized by NFWM’s YAYA Coordinator, Lariza Garzon, and NFWM’s North Carolina staffer, Alexandria Jones, and in collaboration with UF’s Florida Alternative Breaks.