Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Riding 8 buses deep with over 13 vans, the People's Freedom Caravan touched down in Atlanta. Greeted by a New Orleans brass band, the massive convergence joined the Opening March with 10,000 other people seeking a better world. Sandra and Chavel of SWU carried the lead banners while the Glasseyes jammed out under the hot sun for over 2 hours as we weaved through downtown. After 5 days on the road, the march reenergized the crew, ready to take on the USSF.
Taking on oppression in
We woke up this morning with freedom on our minds….Received with warmth and songs by civil rights veteran Hollis Watkins of Southern Echo, the People’s Freedom Caravan departed Tuesday morning on a civil rights tour of the struggles in his home town of
Humbled and inspired by the courage and conviction of the freedom fighters of
“ 25% of my people here in
“Walmart is eating the flesh off the bones of the workers, stealing benefits from workers and families,” said State Representative Jim Evans who came to support the demonstrators. “To unionize Walmart, we need a spark. Today, you are that spark.”
“Those working inside this store right now are the ones making the buck, creating the enormous profit, for the Walmart Corporation,” Latoya Davis of
“I can really relate to the Walmart workers struggles for a living wage because, as a server at Chili’s, I only earn $2.13 an hour,” said Dominic Reyes, 22, from
Chavel Lopez of the Southwest Workers Union, also in
Joined by yet another bus in
The People’s Freedom Caravan joined with the community and survivors of
Rooted deep in history and struggle, hundreds of freedom riders witnessed the power of people to recreate their lives, rebuild their city, and keep their culture vibrant. From community-run health clinics to organizing immigrant workers to the reoccupation of housing units to celebration with food and music, the caravan continues to build power of numbers to bridge the democracy divide.
A bus load of over 40 members of the caravan, joined with the CJ Peete public housing community in their struggle to return to houses that the government has shut down to keep the poor and African-American community from coming home. In support of their efforts, members cleaned mounds of trash that have been ripped from homes and used as an excuse for preventing residents from returning.
“You never hear about the reality. I saw the power of the community here and I am excited that we could help in some small way,” said Jessie Weahkee, 13, from
Others met with migrant day laborers, walked the oldest African-American neighborhood in the country (Treme) and went on a witnessing tour of the lower 9th Ward. In the spirit of
“Let us come together to overcome the barriers set up to keep us divided. As hurricane season is upon us, we must join together to a just rebuilding and reconstruction of our city. The other
The afternoon was spent with families of Liberty Bayou, in
By Julie Straw
A better working environment, higher wages, and health benefits. That's what protestors are asking Wal-Mart to start delivering to its employees. They came by the busloads. Men and Women from several states gathered outside the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Clinton, protesting the company's treatment of its employees.
"Everyone asks me if this is a union issue and this isn't a union issue, to us it is a human issue," said Teri Caben.
Teri Craben with the United Food and Commercial Workers joined up with the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights and the People's Freedom Caravan with members from several states including Texas and New Mexico. The groups claim that Wal-Mart does not provide a livable wage for their employees. They also say the health care package the company offers to their employees is just too expensive.
"The wages they make now they are not able to pay for their health care package for themselves let alone members of their families," said Latoya Davis with the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights.
State Represenative Erik Fleming joined in the fight. He said when the Wal-Mart employees are not given health benefits, it's the taxpayers who end up paying. "My main issue as a State Legislator is Wal-Mart is the biggest employer in the world and they don't provide health insurance. That means from a state standpoint, from a taxpayer standpoint, we have to pick up the slack from the medicaid program," said Rep. Fleming.
Craben says the United Food and Commercial Workers have been fighting for Wal-Mart employees for the last two years. They said the protest won't end until every employee is treated fairly.
A spokesperson for Wal-Mart released this statement to WLBT:
"Wal-Mart creates thousands of jobs, offers competitive wages to our 1.3 million associates, reduces costs through $4 generic medicines and in-store clinics..."
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Today I joined the group that went on the walking tour of the Treme Community. To begin our tour we met at Louis Armstrong in
Next we proceeded to the African American Museum of Art, Culture, and History. The building that houses the museum use to be a “Big House” where wealthy Europeans housed their concubines and their children. Behind the “Big House” the slave quarters still stand. At this time inside of the museum there is a Charles Hooper exhibit. In each of the rooms inside of the museum you can find beautiful paintings depicting the struggles and the emotions of the people of
After we visited the African American Museum of Art, Culture, and History we walked down to St. Augustine Catholic Church.
The last stop on our tour was the Back Street Museum. The Back Street Museum is a museum dedicated to the Mardi Gras Indians, and a culture known to
I enjoyed the walking tour of Treme.
When I first saw the news coverage 2 years ago of hurricane Katrina when it hit, I was at complete shock. It seemed like a complete failure by the government to protect their own people. Since then, I have been deeply interested in how the people of
When we first came upon the area I was filled with so many emotions- sadness, anger, frustration, and confusion. I just could not believe the amount of devastation and the lack of restoration nearly 2 years after the storm hit. Why was it taking so long to get the people back into their homes? Why was the government discouraging people from returning to the only home they know and an area they have lived in for generations? The government is clearly ignoring the people and it is not right. 14,000 people used to live in this area and more than 1,700 died as a result of the storm. Currently only about 20 families live in the area.
I learned many things about Katrina that the media does not tell you. I’ve always heard from the media that the levees failed, but with little explanation. The residents there said that during the night of the storm, they heard explosions, which eyewitnesses say was the government blowing up the levees in order to re-direct the water away from the wealthy and tourist areas and directly into the lower 9th ward. Since it was the middle of the night, all the families were sleeping and had little to no time to evacuate. The water rushed into to their houses and rose to 20 feet within minutes.
I was also shocked to hear that it took one year for this area to get FEMA trailers for the residents that wanted to remain in their community because FEMA and the city were arguing over whether or not the water was okay. Also, after 2 years, these people still do not have land lines for their homes. This is just inexcusable and a completely racist act by the government.
This whole experience left me even more inspired to help communities like the lower 9th ward to fight the system and demand that they be treated fairly. I am currently majoring in environmental justice & policy and hope to use all of my knowledge from school as well as my experience on the People’s Freedom Caravan to put all my energy and effort into helping people that our government chooses to ignore.
- Debbie Moschak, 21
Public Housing Units in New Orleans, even the ones that were not damaged by the flood, have been boarded up and residents have been banned from returning to their homes. The insides of their homes have been dumped in the courtyard, full of washed away memories.
So a crew of 40 folks from the People's Freedom Caravan went to help clean up.
From the GlassEyes of SWU's Youth Leadership Organization
We did not know what to expect when we signed up for the debris clean up. For some odd reason we had the idea that we were going to be out with nails in our mouths building homes for the displaced Katrina victims. We loaded the bus at about 7:30 AM and headed to
We went into what looked like a room that once belonged to a teenage boy. There were sneakers and deflated basketballs all over the floors. When we saw the amount of trash that there was it seemed very overwhelming and nearly impossible but everyone that went to help worked as a team and the task grew easier by the minute. We were throwing away beds, sofas, clothes, dressers, microwaves, TVs’, and other random personal belongings. The thing that got us the most was when we went into the rooms and saw the destruction that had happened because of Katrina. The rooms were full of debris and we saw personal belongings that were left behind such as photo albums with pictures dating back to 1977. In that same room also there was a letter that had a check from FEMA in it for $188.
Residents that had lived at the complex before Katrina hit were telling us what happened that day and how they had to be rescued by helicopters because they couldn’t leave on their own. They tried to go back about a month after the hurricane and they were forced out because the government had taken over and said they were trespassing onto their property.
Monday, June 25, 2007
“we went to the projects where people are not allowed to return. the water didn't even flood here. one reason the government uses is because of the trash, piles everywhere... its their lives, everything got taken away from them. I don’t know how I’d feel if they do that to me and my family,” marsha womack, 18.
“it been like that for two years and nothing has been done by the city… people are trying to live there and no one wants to help them. We went out there and cleaned up, throwing away people's mail, clothes, mattresses…” jason lerma, 22.
“I thought this only happened in poor countries, I couldn’t believe what I saw.” carlos herrera, immigrant, 32.
"i saw and heard the real story of katrina. it was unbelievable," lucha lopez, 28.
“The nightmare for them hasn’t stopped…there is a lot to do,” emma gutierrez, immigrant, 38.
“we went to see the day laborers. i’ve seen day laborers but never heard their stories.… more than just being indocumented and without families, they suffer from bad pay, abused, injustice. workers barely have anything to eat and still have to make money to give to their family far away. they live with double repression, from their home country and in this country." araceli herrera, immigrant, 47.
Being a mother:
“I came on this tour as a mother. i've learned so much. i can’t even imagine what they went through. communities there one day and gone within minutes. The water came in so fast, too later couldn’t even get out. i saw a spark of hope, the community built a clinic for people trying to return and rebuild. its all citizen run… you don’t really get it until you actually see it. I want to thank you all. In 2 days the things I’ve learned and seen is unforgettable.” Renee Rodriguez, 36.Resilience and Courage:
“we visited a free health clinic that has seen 150,000 people since it opened. These people have united and not let got of their land, their pride, their roots, their culture. It gives me that strength to continue… and never to ignore what happens to other people” , monica garcia, 31.
“it may be one thing at a time, but we are all going to get everything accomplished… those who plan to get poor people out, out of their houses so the wealthier can get wealthier, they will come down,” eloy contreras, 49.
“i came from
“I’m very proud of the youth coming on this bus, from the stories they are telling, talking from their heart … I see hope from all the young people on the bus,” viola casares, grandmother, 63.
Unified, Freedom Caravan Reaches
Amplifying Voices of the Grassroots for clean water, alternatives to incarceration
Four buses strong, with the addition of folks from Houston, the People’s Freedom Caravan heard powerful testimony of struggles and victories from the community in
The stories focused on recuperating democracy for the working-class and people of color communities in this country
In the heart of the petrochemical industry and the parish with the highest juvenile incarceration rate in the country, residents spoke of shutting down prisons for children, dedicating resources into education and services, and reducing the amount of poisons in the air. A line filled the hall of people waiting to sign a petition for justice for the Mossville community engulfed with power plants and toxic water.
“We know what a better world would look like,” said Grace Bauerof FFLIC. “It has air and water that nourishes rather than poisons, it has a schools and parks not prisons, it prioritizes social programs and health care instead of corporate welfare. Let’s go to
Special Report: Live from the People's Freedom Caravan
Bringing energy and innovation to the struggle for clean air and healthy neighborhoods
“Thanks for being here,” said one mother of
The rally concluded with a short march to the fenceline of the refinery where marchers placed 300 white crosses on the fence, representing cancer victims in the community.
"The people in
"We heard about children having heart surgery, families dealing with high instances of cancer, yet the community is still filled with hope,” added Rodriguez.
“We need to make change happen in the world, and stand together with the people in this community in East Houston to make [Valero] clean the air, “ says Sandra Garcia, from Southwest Workers’ Union in
“The foundation laid by the environmental justice movement is a critical component of what brought about the US Social Forum,” says Ruben Solis, from San Antonio currently in
2007 marks the 20th anniversary of the eye opening report ‘Race & Waste’ that documented the disproportionate siting of toxic facilities in people of color communities. Despite the effort by countless communities, 20 years later the situation has grown worse.
“Environmental Justice is a human right just like housing, health care and education,” explained Solis.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
What do we want?
Where do we want it?
When do we want it?
Si se puede! Si Se puede! Si se puede!
The chants were as constant as the flag waving.
Tourists visiting the Alamo got an eye and ear full Saturday, witnessing a rally of more than 150 immigration advocates demanding equal rights for immigrants, especially children.
The rally, organized by the Southwest Workers Union and several other local advocacy groups, focused mainly on what they allege are prison-like conditions at a family residential facility in Taylor, about 35 miles northeast of Austin.
The T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility, which opened a year ago, is the nation's largest detention center for immigrant families. The 512-bed center — detractors call it a prison, the government calls it a shelter — has been a constant target for immigrant advocates.
A 72-page report from the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service recommended that the center be closed because the conditions are too much like a prison. The two advocacy groups were allowed inside Hutto and a similar detention center in Pennsylvania.
Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have denied those claims, saying the Hutto center provides safe and secure conditions for detained undocumented immigrants. In February, reporters were given a quick tour of Hutto's classrooms, playgrounds and cafeteria but were not allowed to talk to detainees.
The rally was the first stop of the day for the local groups of advocates that call their caravan "The Freedom Bus." After the 30-minute protest, people packed into a bus for a trip to the Taylor facility, where they planned to meet hundreds of others from throughout Texas and Washington, D.C., in protest.
Tourists Clyde McCormick and his wife, Terri, of Cincinnati watched the rally from a wall across the street from the Alamo. "We didn't know why they were protesting," Terri McCormick said.
That is until Madeleine Dewar, a member of the San Antonio Area Progressive Action Coalition and a State Democratic Party committee woman, stopped to tell them.
Dewar buttonholed several tourists about the group's cause — hurriedly giving some facts about the facility, including the cost to taxpayers, and encouraging them to learn more about it. Some tourists stood and listened. Others walked away.
Rosa Rosales, president of the national League of United Latin American Citizens, said she has had meetings with Homeland Security officials about the facility but has not been granted a tour. She said out of 400 people detained in Hutto, 286 are children.
"No child should be in a jail because their parents don't have papers," Rosales said.
Lydia Williams, 41, of Carlsbad, N.M., said she was part of a Southwest Organizing Project group of about 100 who stopped for the protest on their way to a forum in Atlanta.
"We are really trying to make positive changes in the world today," she said.
Special Report: Live from the People's Freedom Caravan
- See pictures from this 'social forum on wheels'
- YES! Magazine: blog from Sarah van Gelder's insight from the buses
- SWOPblogger: even more updates from the journey to the USSF
Bright and early this Sunday morning, an energetic crew of 50 folks from San Antonio, including delegates from Mexico and Japan joined with the People's Freedom Caravan. Yesterday, after marching, swimming and tour, the day went late into the tonight with live conjunto music, aztec danzantes, spoken word and a home-cooked meal by Fuerza Unida.
3 buses and 3 vans are cruising I-10 East towards Houston, anxiously awaiting a brisket bbq and connecting with the Manchester community. Onward!
Saturday, June 23, 2007
A delegation of 100 from across the state of New Mexico rolled with energy and excitement into the first stop of the Caravan, San Antonio Texas. After a tour of the community fighting against the toxics and sickness caused by the former Kelly Air Force Base and hearing first hand from community leaders, the folks arrived chanting at the Alamo demanding human rights for all migrants, the reunification of families and an end to the militarization of the border.
Marching united to the office of the racist Senator John Cornyn, the youth led the way to tear down the 'wall of death', which Cornyn wants to build, chalk outlines of bodies left to represents the hundreds that die every year because of the border. People offered testimony on the human face of these anti-immigrant policies.
Afterwards SWU members prepared a bbq of chicken, sausage, corn & calabaza and all the trimmings at a local park. Tonight we await an evening of cultural sharing and celebration of people power.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Rolling out with painted buses, this stylish crew of 100 from across the state of New Mexico (including folks from California) launches the People's Freedom Caravan. With a new vision of democracy, the buses head across 7 states over 6 days through the southwest and hurricane alley to land at the 1st US Social Forum in Atlanta. Along the way over 75 community-based organizations and thousands of people in each city will converge to share cultures and work towards grassroots solutions to issues of poverty, globalization and pollution.
The New Mexico Delegation consists of residents from Pajarito Mesa fighting for basic services, Immigrants fighting for a just immigration reform, Indigenous people protecting sacred sites, African Americans preserving historical traditions and culture, policy organizations fighting for working families and other allies from around the state.
“The caravan will unite across racial, cultural, geographic and language barriers to advocate for people-based solutions and to create a democracy that works for everyone not just a selected few,” says Bineshi Albert, Board President of SouthWest Organizing Project.
The caravan is scheduled to arrive in San Antonio Friday evening.
From ABQ journal
Activists Join People’s Caravan
Bus tour to focus on social, economic disparities on way to forum in Atlanta
BY DEBRA DOMINGUEZ-LUND
Journal Staff Writer
They are seeking another form of U.S. democracy — one they say is based on “equality, living wages, sustainability and human rights.”
About 100 community members and civil rights activists will gather as the sun comes up Friday morning at Washington Park near Downtown Albuquerque to launch a “People’s Caravan” across the nation.
The bus caravan, a grassroots effort by participating groups such as the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Southwest Organizing Project, was created in remembrance of the first Freedom Ride that was met with violence in Jackson, Miss., in 1961.
New Mexicans from civil rights advocacy groups like SWOP, Enlace Comunitario, the Martin Luther King Dream Team and Somos un Pueblo Unido, will launch the bus tour from Albuquerque and visit at least six other U.S. cities until reaching their destination: the U.S. Social Forum, which is expected to draw some 1,000 attendees in Atlanta on Wednesday.
“During the tour, we’ll be meeting up with allies in other cities for rallies, press conferences, meetings with legislators and to even do community work,” SWOP communications organizer Jo Ann Gutierrez-Bejar said.
The caravan will make stops in San Antonio, Texas; Houston; Lake Charles, La.; New Orleans; Jackson, Miss.; Selma, Ala., and finally, Atlanta.
“Our primary mission is to bridge the nation’s democratic divide,” Gutierrez-Bejar said. “We live in a country with structural inequities. Lowincome people of color are divided amongst each other.
“We need to bridge the gap between us with this tour and realize we’re all fighting the same struggles and seeking the same opportunities,” she said.
“We want to look at how certain policies in this nation are tailored for the rich by the rich. We want to get the poor involved so policies are tailored to help get them out of poverty.”
Organizers say that as the freedom riders of the 1960s brought a new vision for the South based on desegregation, this year’s “People’s Caravan” will demonstrate that another United States is possible — one that bridges racial, geographic and cultural divides and moves beyond the status quo “pay to play” politics.
“We are going to Atlanta to build a unified voice of the people,” said Agnes Rivera, New York’s Community Voices Heard leader and a caravan participant.
“We want to make connections across the country to create a domino effect of action and organizing.
“On the caravan and at the forum, we will discuss our social safety net, jobs and public housing,” she said. “We’ll learn from each other and strengthen our work for another world.”
Sandra Ortsman, a member of Albuquerque’s immigrantrights group Enlace Comunitario, said costs, harsh working conditions and distance typically keep the poor apart and away from organizing opportunities.
“This caravan will allow us to unite,” she said. “It will give us a chance to form a partnership and come up with strategies and solutions to do away with injustice and inequities in the United States.”
Thursday, June 21, 2007
JoAnn Gutierrez Bejar 505.247.8832(SWOP)
Brenda Hyde 601.982.6400 (S Echo)
Kimberly Richards 504.722.3213 (NOLA)
People’s Freedom Caravan
Bringing a new grassroots vision and innovations to overcome the democracy divide
The People's Freedom Caravan is a social forum on wheels coming to your community and in the spirit of the Freedom Rides, aiming to serve at a catalyst for positive change. In the current reality that keep low-income families out of the dominant politics, this movement recognizes that real change will come from the grassroots, and will speak to the issues of those most affected by the changing economy and globalization.
Albuquerque, NM – Friday June 22nd – SWOP office (211 10th St NW) – 7am
100 people will launch the People’s Freedom Caravan. Indigenous, immigrant and youth participants will share the vision and intent of this traveling forum for social change.
San Antonio, TX – Saturday June 23rd – The Alamo (300 Alamo Plaza) – 11:20am
In this low-wage, NAFTA city hundreds of people will call for just immigration policy that respects the human rights of all workers. The caravan will bring ideas for fair trade, a living wage and a non-militarized cooperative border region. The march will visit the office of Senator John Cornyn.
Houston, TX – Sunday June 24th – Hartman Park (9311 East Avenue P) – 1pm
Activists from New Mexico, San Antonio and El Paso will be stopping in the Manchester Community to highlight their struggle for a clean environment, situated in the hub of the dirty oil industry. Residents will join in one of the largest environmental action in Houston history to discuss ways to participate in the political process to achieve clean air, environmental justice and decent housing. The Mayor will be in attendance.
Lake Charles, LA – Sunday June 24th – MLK Center (2009 N. Simmons) – 5:45 pm
4 buses will converge with local communities to rally for education instead of incarceration in an region with one of the highest juvenile imprisonment rates. Overlooking nearby refineries, communities will call for just energy policy that bring renewable clean energy to poor communities.
New Orleans, LA – Monday June 25th – Congo Square (718 N Rampart St) – 1pm
The caravan will unite with another 200 local people to show that New Orleans will not be forgotten. Together, the group will propose alternatives to the privatization schemes that threaten to take away schools, homes and human rights. They will continue the efforts to rebuild to city and ensure residents the right to return.
Slidell, LA – Mon June 25th – St. Genevieve Catholic Church (58203 Highway 433) – 4:20pm
The Slidell community will host at celebration and ‘Bayou Boil’ for the People’s Freedom Caravan at a church destroyed by hurricane Katrina. Community testimonies on rebuilding will be shared along with local culture.
Jackson, MS – Tuesday June 26th – Wal-Mart (950 Highway 80E, Clinton) – 1:30pm
The Caravan will join local civil rights leaders, workers and migrants to demand living wage, just working conditions and health benefits for employees of Wal-Mart. Over 200 people will be present and call for sustainable cities, people-centered development, and human rights for all workers.
Selma, AL – Tues June 26th – 21st Century Campground (Perry County Road 57, Suttles) – 7pm
Civil rights and social justice leaders will host over 600 people of the caravan to discuss educational disparities in Alabama and across the south, innovative ways to uplift the voices of people of color and youth in the political process and rich history of the region in regards to the civil rights movement.
Atlanta, GA – Wed. June 27th – Atlanta Civic Center (395 Piedmont Avenue, NE)– 12:35pm
The caravan, 800 strong, will arrive to Atlanta for the US Social Forum will inspiration, ideas and convergence between peoples in the southern half of the US. At as group, the caravan will march in the opening and continue activities during the week at the People’s Freedom and Solidarity Tent.
Route and stops:
June 22nd – Albuquerque, NM 505.247.8832
June 23rd – San Antonio, TX 210.299.2666
June 24th (afternoon) – Houston, TX 318.514.9924 / (evening) Lake Charles, LA 504.606.8846
June 25th – New Orleans, LA 504.301.9292 / (evening) Slidell, LA
June 26th (morning) – Jackson, MS 601.982.6400 / (evening) – Selma, AL 617.880. 9208
June 27th – March on Atlanta to USSF
21st Century Youth Leadership, Alabama
Action for Community Education Reform, Mississippi
Activists With a Purpose, Grenada (MS)
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, New Orleans (LA)
American Indian Movement, National
Ashe' Cultural Center, New Orleans (LA)
Bayou Liberty, Slidell (LA)
Bayou Paquet, Slidell (LA)
Brown Berets, San Antonio (TX)
Capital Post-Conviction Project, New Orleans (LA)
Catalyst Project, New Orleans (LA)
Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, New Mexico
Chicano, New Mexico
Children’s Defense Fund, New Orleans (LA)
Circle of Love Center, Selma (AL)
Citizens for Education Awareness, Mississippi
Coalition In Defense of the Community, Houston (TX)
Committee for Environmental Justice Action, San Antonio (TX)
Community In-Power Development Association, Port Arthur (TX)
Concerned Citizens for a Better Tunica County, Tunica (MS)
Concerned Citizens of Greenville, Greenville (MS)
Creole Sans Limites, Slidell (LA)
Enlace Comunitario, Albuquerque (NM)
Elwood Community Church, Selma (AL)
Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama, Montgomery (AL)
Fourth World Movement, New Orleans (LA)
Friends and Families of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, Lake Charles (LA)
Fuerza Unida, San Antonio (TX)
Georgia Stand Up, Atlanta (GA)
Grassroots Global Justice, US
Gulf Coast Fund, US
Houston Indy Media Collective, Houston (TX)
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, New Orleans (LA)
Indianola Parent Student Group, Indianola (MS)
Institute of Women& Ethnic Studies, New Orleans(LA)
Just Be Inc, Selma (AL)
Latino Health Outreach Project, New Orleans (LA)
League of United Latin American Citizens, Houston (TX)
Left Turn, New Orleans (LA)
Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic, New Orleans (LA)
Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, New Orleans (LA)
Millions More Movement, Houston (TX)
MLK Dream Team, Carlsbad (NM)
Mossville Environmental Action Now, Mossville (LA)
Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Slidell (LA)
National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies, New Orleans (LA)/national
Neighborhood Partnership Network, New Orleans(LA)
New Mexico Acequia Association/Sembrando Semillas, New Mexico
New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic, New Orleans (LA)
New Orleans Workers' Center, New Orleans (LA)
Nollies Citizens for Quality Education, Mississippi
One Torch, New Orleans (LA)
Parents and Youth United for a Better Webster County, Webster (MS)
People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, New Orleans (LA)
People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, Houston (TX), New Orleans (LA)
People’s Organizing Committee, New Orleans (LA)
PODER, San Francisco (CA)
Project South, Atlanta (GA)
Safe Streets Strong Communities, New Orleans (LA)
SAGE Council, Albuquerque (NM)
Saving Our Selves Coalition, Alabama
Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Santa Fe (NM)
Southern Echo Incorporated, Jackson (MS)
Southern Human Rights Organizing Network, Houston (TX)
SouthWest Organizing Project, Albuquerque (NM)
Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio (TX)
St. Vincent de Paul Society, Slidell (LA)
Students at the Center, New Orleans (LA)
T.E.J.A.S, Houston (TX)
Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Houston (TX)
Vietnamese-American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans, New Orleans (LA)
Welfare Rights Organization, New Orleans (LA)
World Can’t Wait, San Antonio (TX)
Youth Innovation Movement Solutions, Mississippi
Youth Leadership Organization, San Antonio (TX)
Youth Media Council, Oakland (CA)
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Genevieve Rodriguez, youth intern with SWU's Youth Leadership Organization, reflects on her experience.....
"Poverty: The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts. Poverty is all around the world today. It is the burden of some, the death of others. Being a part of the youth today, we see a lot of issues that we are too naïve to understand. POVERTY is not one of them. It is so obvious and surrounding, it’s almost impossible to not notice it. Being a part of the Southwest Workers Union has been quite the experience, and it’s only my second week. Today the Southwest Workers Union took action against poverty in our school districts.
To see the statistics and the data about the kind of wages school workers make as opposed to administrators is flat out shocking. Our school districts have been keeping school workers such as custodians and cafeteria workers in poverty by keeping them from a living wage. That is why the Southwest Workers Union is taking action such as the one taken today. Today the Southwest Workers Union took action by marching in front of the Marriot Hotel and demanding a living wage for school workers, where hundreds of administrators from districts all over the state were gathered.
We chanted with our signs and a half-miler to get everyone’s attention. We heard honks coming from street to support our cause. That gave me a surge of joy, knowing that other people as well care about stopping poverty. I must say, since this was only my second protest, I was still intimidated when security came to talk to us. But even when I was shaking in my boots, we kept marching. We started a chant that I really liked. “The People united, will not be divided”. For me, it just showed that if you stick together you can not get broken down.
After chanting for a while we received news that the administrators were about to leave the hotel. We gathered our signs and headed for the front of the hotel. You can imagine the looks on the faces of some of them. Some of them came out and were all for the cause, others wanted to leave as quickly as possible. I held up the poverty graph. Some stopped to look at the data, others walked on by. Bumper stickers and flyers were passed all around just trying to get the word out.
Overall, I thought today went really well. We opened up some eyes, and let people know what’s really going on. The people were informed and that is what is important. If you do not know what is going on, then how can you know if you are a victim of the issue? Here school workers are the victims but as part of the Southwest Workers Union, I want to fight for them. And as long as I am a part of that, that is what I’ll do.
KSAT Channel 12 news video