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2007 Truth Tour :: Day 1


The 2007 McDonald's Truth Tour rolled out of Immokalee early this morning with determination etched on the faces of more than sixty participants, both old...

... and young -- determination to reveal the truth of exploitation behind the Golden Arches.

Exactly six years and six days ago, farmworkers from an isolated and deeply impoverished community in southwest Florida began a journey to change the food industry in America from the bottom up. After years of local struggle for respect and fair wages, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers launched a nationwide boycott against fast-food giant Taco Bell on April 1, 2001 despite the seemingly improbable odds of success.

However, over the course of the four-year boycott, the CIW's local fight blossomed into a full-fledged national movement bringining together Immokalee's workers with an ever-growing array of dedicated consumer allies in a bid for justice and dignity in Florida's fields.

Two years after the historic Taco Bell victory, which paved the way for significant improvements in the lives of thousands of tomato pickers, this idea -- the notion of a food industry that doesn't rely on the endless exploitation of farmworkers -- continues to steadily gather momentum. Now, it's the world's largest restaurant chain, McDonald's, that's being asked to embrace this powerful idea. For the workers toiling in Immokalee's fields day after day, two years of waiting has proved more than enough. Indeed, this is an idea whose time has come.

So it was with an acute sense of purpose and urgency that dozens of workers made their way in the pre-dawn darkness to the CIW center in order to make final preparations and board the bus for a cross-country tour behind the Golden Arches.

The atmosphere inside the Coalition office was festive, to say the least. For months now, the 2007 McDonald's Truth Tour has been shaping up to be the biggest Truth Tour yet, and its impending departure brought an unmistakable electricity to the early morning gathering.

After some last-minute consolidation...

... it was on to the very full and family-friendly bus to begin the long trek to the Windy City and the massive protests shaping up in McDonald's backyard on April 13th and 14th.

Rev. Noelle Damico of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., a longtime ally of the CIW and the Campaign for Fair Food, led the tour participants in a prayer and wished them a safe journey.

As with the past five years, the Truth Tour's first stop was in Venice, Florida to visit our old friends at the Knights of Columbus who serve a mean pancake breakfast and are never short on kind words and encouragement for the trip ahead.

And before hitting the road again to continue on to Atlanta, the tour participants had a chance to meet the new Bishop of the Diocese of Venice. Bishop Dewane welcomed the workers to Venice, reminded us that the Holy Week is a time of great hope and unexpected blessings, and pledged to continue the Church's long history of support for the CIW and its members.

Check back tomorrow for more news as the 2007 Truth Tour rolls into Atlanta!