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2007 Truth Tour :: Day 6

"Our World, Our Rights" Conference & Encuentro
College of Dupage, Glen Ellyn, IL

Friday, the first of two days of action at the peak of the 2007 Truth Tour, did not disappoint. As night fell in the suburbs, nearly a thousand protesters descended on three Burger King restaurants outside of Chicago. The protests were the first shot across Burger King's bow, as the Campaign for Fair Food officially turned its sights on BK.

The day began with preparations for the "Our World, Our Rights" conference at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The conference collected the energy brought by campus and community activists from over 30 states and focused it on creating change in the food industry and beyond.

As with so many nationwide CIW gatherings over the past several years, the event was kicked off with a stalwart performance by Son del Centro. Playing son jarocho, a type of traditional Mexican folk music from the state of Veracruz, our longtime friends from Santa Ana, CA and the Taco Bell Truth Tour set the tone for a day of celebration, reflection, and looking forward to the future of the Campaign for Fair Food.

The audience grew to nearly a thousand over the course of the day and enjoyed a full program of music, speeches, and workshops on topics from immigrant workers' rights to community-based media and sustainable food and farming. Organizations presenting on their work and vision for a more just world included Domestic Workers United from New York City, Witness for Peace, representatives of the Coca Cola boycott, Miami Workers Center & LIFFT, and Chicago's own Solidarity not Charity.

While the Truth Tour's media team kept busy documenting the day's events...

... the Chicago organizing crew spent a tense day (and night, and day...) poring over the details for the next day's events, the constantly evolving culmination of the 2007 Truth Tour, the "Concert for Fair Food" (or, the event formerly known as the "Carnaval and Parade for Fair Food, Real Rights, and Dignity"... it's a long story, but one that ended beautifully).

There's really no explanation for this picture, just a little shameless exploitation of a cute kid to convey an important message...

... a message that was carried to the office of the Heartland Corporation, one of Burger King's largest franchisees with nearly 260 restaurants to its name. The mid-day delegation included representatives from the CIW and all the sectors of the Alliance for Fair Food.

While the delegation was greeted rather brusquely by security at first, they were received warmly once inside by the CFO who listened intently to the delegation's message and gave a sincere promise to convey it to Burger King's corporate headquarters in Miami.

Meanwhile, back at the College of DuPage, the conference gave way to a spirited rally celebrating the McDonald's victory. Above, Stewart Acuff, Organizing Director of the AFL-CIO, addressed the crowd and pledged the support of the country's largest labor federation to the community of Immokalee and its struggle for worker justice.

The rally – which also included speeches by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Clifton Kirkpatrick and Linda Valentine of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Rev. Michael Livingston of the National Council of Churches (USA), and Kenneth Brown of the United Church of Christ – put the perfect finish on a great conference. For three months, the CIW's organizing team in Chicago was working diligently toward what was going to be an historic protest outside of McDonald's corporate headquarters. But when last week's victory suddenly changed those well-laid plans, the team was faced with pulling together an alternative that could capture the significance of the moment and help the movement for Fair Food take its first steps down the road ahead. The conference achieved both those goals, and did so with a degree of success that was nothing short of a miracle.

To conclude the rally, the thousand participants who had gathered from all corners of the country for the actions in Chicago emptied out of the overflowing auditorium...

... to enjoy a theater based on the unfolding story of the Campaign for Fair Food, a story bringing together farrmworkers and consumers from all walks of life to rewrite the script of the $100 billion fast-food industry.

As a sign of things to come, both in terms of the evening's protests and the newest target in the campaign, these members of the Student/Farmworker Alliance made sure that Burger King's remixed brand was on full display.

The assembled Fair Food army moved from an imaginary Burger King to a real one... or, in this case, three real Burger Kings, swarming the suburban landscape with our music, art and spirit...

... in three massive protests that brought together son jarocho music out of Southern California with hip hop artists from Brooklyn, demanding in one unified chorus that BK, in the words of one of the nights chants, "get out the way" of progress and get behind the principles of farm labor fairness established in the Taco Bell and, now, McDonald's agreements.

The message of the night's protests – the first official actions of the Burger King campaign – couldn't have been clearer...

... that the energy, determination, and joy of this movement will not be turned around. It's time – now – for Burger King to get on board.

Click here for the final Truth Tour update – the blowout "Rally and Concert for Fair Food" at Chicago's House of Blues!

Click here for a complete photo archive
from Day 6!