Be A Voice “With” the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

BY ISN STAFF | November 21, 2012

Christopher Kerr speaks at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice Public Vigil on Captiol HillThis past weekend at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice  (IFTJ) great emphasis was placed on the importance of responding to one’s experiences with reflective action.  As I spoke to the attendees on Saturday evening during a vigil at Capitol Hill, I invited IFTJ participants to be a voice “with” those who are marginalized.  The emphasis on the word “with” recognizes the voice that each individual has in our world.  The act of speaking out “with” them is one of solidarity.

Many years ago I had my first encounter with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).  I was an undergraduate student at John Carroll University and joined a group taking a post-Christmas service trip to Immokalee to work with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.  We spent many hours serving at a local Catholic Charities food pantry and clothing room, playing with children at a community center, and we organized a activity night for the parish youth group.   The experience with the greatest impact was likely the visit we made to farm worker family’s home.  Having the opportunity to meet people in their own space and be part of their reality for a brief moment offered tremendous perspective into the injustices faced by their community.  They shared their story of coming to the United States seeking a better life, the challenges they faced to meet the basic needs of their family on farm worker wages picking the tomatoes that most Americans eat each winter, and their hope for a better future for their children.    I’ve revisited Immokalee many times since then and continue to be inspired by the efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to advocate for just employment practices grounded in the value of human dignity.

As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, the CIW has invited people across the U.S. to advocate to Publix, a regional grocery chain, to join the farm workers “Fair Food Program.”  Included in their call is a reflection on “Two Thanksgivings,” contrasting the realities of a typical U.S. family with those of a farm worker family in Immokalee – you can see the video below.   Can you be a voice “with” the Coalition this Thanksgiving?

Click HERE to sign the CIW petition calling Publix to join the Fair Food Program.

“A Tale of Two Thanksgivings”


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