Day One
Farmworker Freedom March
Tampa to Temple Terrace

photos by Omar De La Riva and JJ Tiziou

Day Two Update

Day Three Update

On a glorious spring morning, farmworkers from Immokalee and their Fair Food allies gathered in downtown Tampa for an inter-denominational blessing at Joe Chillura Courthhouse Sqaure.

The theme was justice for Florida's farmworkers, and the blessing set the tone for what was to come next: the Farmworker Freedom March, a three-day long dialogue with the people along the road from Tampa to Lakeland -- and with consumers across the state -- about the brutal reality of exploitation in the fields where Publix buys its tomatoes.

And then the march began.

The marchers' urgent call for "Freedom from forced labor...

... poverty

... and abuse" was echoed in hundreds of signs carried during the 8-hour long, 10-mile trek through the streets of Tampa.

Most signs, of course, focused their attention on Publix, Florida's own supermarket giant, including this one making a clever play on Publix's well-known advertising slogan "Where shopping is a pleasure"...

... and this one, making clever use of one's own body for a remarkably well-done temporary tattoo of a sad tomato that made up its own little sign specially for the Freedom March.
But the message was most powerfully conveyed by the march itself, which grew from some two hundred participants at the kick-off rally...
... to over five hundred by midday, farmworkers and consumers who will form the core for the next two days as the march continues to build for Sunday's huge rally in Lakeland.

And the message clearly hit home throughout the day for people along the march route, several thousand of whom received their own copies of the "Why We March" statement (which is posted in full on this site's homepage)...

... and hundreds of whom showed their own signs of support....

... and a few of whom literally flipped for the march. (March photographers captured these kids showing off their spectactular acrobatic skills for the marchers on the way to a water break.)

CIW members also documented the march for the community back home in Immokalee...

... as did many of the marchers for their own communities, including this member of United Workers, who made the trek all the way from Baltimore for the Farmworker Freedom March.

The day ended with a massive picket and rally outside the Publix store on Busch Blvd.,...

... where, as is their wont, Publix 's ever-expanding team of videographers dutifully recorded all the action for review later somewhere in the bowels of Mordor... (just poking fun!...).
But not even the videographer's particularly menacing flair could rain on this little march participant's parade who, like hundreds of other marchers, looked back with a smile on a great Day One of the 2010 Farmworker Freedom March. Next stop: Plant City!