the 2nd day of the 2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour, farmworkers and their
allies fanned out across the Southeastern United States, taking
their message to the streets as well as the classrooms.
While geography may have separated the two crews, they were united
in their practice of time-honored principles of the Truth Tour:
reflection and action. (Above, the East leg braves
the bitter cold for some spirited action outside a Taco Bell in
the long drive from Southwest Florida to Atlanta on Day One, the
participants on the East leg of the tour were ready to get down
to business on Tuesday. They kicked things off in style with a series
of classroom presentations at Georgia State University.
has been the experience on Truth Tours past, the farmworkers were
warmly received by the students. The ensuing dialogue revealed a
genuine concern about the intersection of human rights abuses and
the fast-food industry. One couldn't help but notice the stark contrast
between these engaged young people and the so-called "New Hedonism
Generation" -- the label Taco Bell's marketers use to describe
the company's target demographic of 18-to-24 year-olds.
common thread uniting both legs of the tour was the legacy of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. After a morning in the classrooms, the CIW
and their allies paid a visit to nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church, the
historic site where Dr. King led a congregation and the civil rights
tour also stopped by Dr. King's tomb and memorial. While quietly
contemplating his message of human rights and nonviolent social
change, the workers from Immokalee posed for this solemn picture.
long, it was time to get back to Georgia State for an afternoon
rally with our friends from the U.S. Human Rights Network and Jobs
with Justice. Although the temperature oustide was sub-freezing,
everyone was energized and ready to put the days lessons into action.
feisty afternoon protest -- which united the Tour crew with local
supporters, including some members of the United Brotherhood of
Carpenters and Joiners of America, who were staging their own picket
a few blocks away -- was the perfect way to draw our time in Atlanta
to a close. After wrapping up, it was back on the bus and onwards
so much as missing a beat, the East leg of the tour pulled into
Nashville just in time for a sunset protest. The tour was warmly
welcomed by allies from the Tennessee Economic Renewal Network,
the Nashville Peace & Justice Center, LIVE (Living Income for
Vanderbilt Employees), a slew of local high school students...
and a very talented man on stilts who was proud to "stand tall
having already put in a long day, the East tour crew had one more
stop: a teach-in at Vanderbilt University with members of LIVE.
The students were so animated by the presentation they solidified
plans to start a new Boot the Bell campaign at Vanderbilt! If successful,
Vanderbilt would join 21 other high schools and colleges who have
taken a stand with farmworkers in their fight for dignity and against
Next up for the East leg: Cincinnati, OH!
the East leg was turning up the heat on Taco Bell in Atlanta, the
West leg was doing the same, beginning the day in Montgomery, Alabama,
an appropriate tour stop given the proud history of the people of
Montgomery in using boycotts to fight for social justice.
After volunteers from Immanuel Presbyterian Church served a delicious
breakfast, tour riders extended their appreciation to such wonderful
hosts. Here, Gerardo Reyes Chavez of the CIW presents a gift to
them for their generous hospitality: a picture of an Immokalee tomato
picker's hands after a hard day's work in the fields.
new friends from Immanuel escorted the Truth Tour to downtown Montgomery.
After an enthusiastic march the tour participants and Montgomery allies
conducted a press conference addressing the dire conditions farmworkers
face in the agricultural industry.
the Alabama State House, farmworkers took to the podium highlighting
injustices in Florida's fields as well as describing the unique
opportunity Taco Bell and Yum Brands have to transform the industry
by cleaning up systemic human rights abuses in their supply chain.
of the Student/Farmworker Alliance also told reporters how and why
young people and students, Taco Bell's primary target market, are
serving as powerful allies in the farmworkers' fight for justice.
the press conference, the march continued on to Dexter Avenue Church,
where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had once served as pastor. There
tour participants drew links between the civil rights movement and
the farmworkers' campaign today for a just wage.
Robert F. Kennedy is one of many heroes whose likeness is featured
in the church's mural (above). Since 2003, the human rights center
bearing his name has served as an influencial partner of the CIW.
In fact, RFK's daughter, Kerry Kennedy, will be joining the CIW
at the national rally oustide Yum Brands global headquarters in
Louisville, KY on March 12th.
in Dr. King's sanctuary proved inspiring for
and the opportunity for reflection left tour participants with the
sense that his noble mission remains as relevant today as ever.
Soon, it was time to hit the road again. Next destination: Memphis,
Memphis, riders were treated to a great dinner by the local Food
not Bombs (above) before splitting the team in half to speak at
Rhodes College and the University of Memphis. The trip to University
of Memphis was especially significant for the workers since students
there won their Boot the Bell campaign back in Spring of 2003!
the students at Georgia State, the students at Rhodes and U. Memphis
were both attentive and inquisitive. After the presentation, many
students began making plans to reunite with the tour in Louisville
for the March 12th national convergence.
most of the discussion was quite serious, the presentation at Rhodes
College also had its share of lighter moments, spurring laughter
and participation from the audience.
Even after the crowd poured out, farmworkers
remained determined in their mission...
pumped up for Day 3 of the Truth Tour, where the Western leg will
take its message to St. Louis, MO.
here for more photos from Day 2!
Click here for photos & reports
from Day 3!