Day Two
Farmworker Freedom March
Plant City to Lakeland

photos by JJ Tiziou and Omar De La Riva

Day One Update
Day Three Update

On Saturday, the Farmworker Freedom March took to the streets again -- with renewed energy and ever growing numbers of fresh troops -- for another day-long hike across central Florida on the road to Publix's hometown of Lakeland.

And among the growing number was one very important new marcher, Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Orlando Catholic Diocese, whose address at the prayer vigil outside Publix headquarters at the end of the day was a moving statement of the power of faith to make necessary social change.

The day began with an enormous picket outside a Publix in Plant CIty...

... with great energy and support from the street...

... and a clear message, a message amplified with each passing day as more and more new marchers arrive and bring their own beautifully crafted signs and banners to the battle.

Of course, Publix's team of videographers didn't miss a minute of the action...

... but if they wanted to keep up with the marchers, they were going to have to do it on the move, as the marchers wasted no time in making the transition from the morning's picket to the launch of the day's 11-mile march.

But no videographer can keep up with workers from Immokalee and their allies when it comes to fighting for justice in the streets, so we left our camera-bearing chaperone behind and...

... took our march to the beautiful people of Plant City, who met us with warm smiles...

... and outstretched arms, asking for our Why We March fliers and almost to a person showing their genuine support.

Of course, to every rule there is an exception... and we'll just leave this at that.

Before long, the route led us out of town and into a long rural stretch between the agricultural community of Plant City and Lakeland.

The many miles of marching along Hwy 98 was a bit more tricky than the rest of the route up to this point, as not only did we lose our police escort, but we also lost our lane of traffic and were obliged to take our march along a narrow shoulder of the highway.

But, as it turns out, our own security was more than up to the task. In fact, there's no better moment than now for a deep tip of the hat to our crack security team, a rotating crew of 30-40 marchers who tirelessly provided order and support to their fellow marchers over miles and miles of dangerous highways.

Where marchers walked 10 or 11 miles a day, our security crew -- shown here limbering up during the noon lunch break -- walked and...

... ran back and forth along the line as need dictated, logging easily double the mileage by the end of the day. So, today, to our indefatigable security crew, we salute you!
And so as the sign reads, thanks to the security team we were indeed able to complete the last half of the march along Hwy 98 on the way to Publix's headquarters...
... and along the way, the closer we got to the headquarters, the stronger the support we received from passersby, including more than a few Publix's own employees. The last few hours of the march were marked by a chorus of honks, thumbs up, and heartfelt shouts in support of the campaign, which, in all honesty, was a bit surprising given that we were rolling into the neighborhood of a company that spends a remarkable amount of money reminding Floridians of what a great neighbor it is.

And finally, after two days and 21 long and hot miles, the Farmworker Freedom March arrived at Publix corporate headquarters, located well off the road (in the upper left quadrant of the frame) behind a large lake.

The highlight of the ensuing rally was a prayer vigil led by a number of religious leaders, including Bishop Wenski, whom we saw earlier marching the final mile. Bishop Wenski worked the march into his message: "In this long march of ours there is no tiredness. You may feel tired, your feet may be tired, but you're not tired for seeking justice, for seeking a better life for all our brothers and sisters."

Bishop Wenski also spoke of the history of the campaign, of earlier strategies to deflect the workers' demands by companies from McDonald's to Subway, and of each company's eventual decision to partner with with CIW, or in his words to move from, "ignoring the workers to listening to them." He assured the crowd that Publix too will eventually listen to workers' and consumers' call for Fair Food.

Bishop Wenski's words left both consumers...

... and workers inspired and determined to continue the march, and the campaign, until the dream of fair wages and humane labor conditions is finally won, not just in the fields where Publix buys its tomatoes, but across the state of Florida, where the country buys its winter fruits and vegetables.

And Day Three's march and rally will, without question, bring us one step closer to that realizing that dream.