On Friday August 7th, the Board and Staff of the National Farm Worker Ministry were joined by NFWM supporters and clergy from North Carolina for a day of activities in support of farm workers who toil in tobacco fields, inclulding a moving service held at a tobacco field honoring the sacrifices of farm workers.
More than fifty people met at the Unitarian Universalists Church of Greensboro to hear about the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s (FLOC) campaign with Reynolds Tobacco from FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez, Rev. Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community, and NFWM Director Virginia Nesmith. For nearly two years, Reynolds has refused to meet with the farm workers who harvest their tobacco and address the injustices those workers endure in the company’s supply chain.
The group then traveled to a tobacco field where NFWM-NC staffer Alexandria Jones led the group in a moving service honoring the work and sacrifices of farm workers. Standing in a circle beside the long, formidable rows of shoulder high tobacco plants, participants, one by one, poured water from a pitcher out onto the dry ground and offered their prayer – prayers for safety, prayers for families, prayers for those in power, prayers for justice.
On to Winston-Salem, the group held a prayer vigil outside of the Reynolds Tobacco headquarters and then picketed around the building. Although the company reaps millions in profit from the labor of farm workers, Reynolds refuses recognize farm workers as stakeholders in the industry.
On Saturday, the NFWM Board & Staff held their semi-annual business meeting at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro, NC.