Students Join in Solidarity with the Farmworkers of the CIW

This past week, Freedom University welcomed the farmworkers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to Atlanta as part of their 4 for Fair Food National Tour!

In Freedom University’s Human Rights and Legal Studies class, students read “Golpear a Uno Es Golpear a Todos!” (To Beat One of Us is to Beat All of Us), an essay about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ human rights strategies and the development of its revolutionary Fair Food Program. So students were thrilled to welcome the CIW to Atlanta on Monday, March 11 as the farmworkers made their way across the country on the group’s consciousness-raising tour to bring light to its boycott against Wendy’s. First, Freedom University staff and students gave the farmworkers a tour of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and helped guide the farmworkers through the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. papers, the history of Atlanta’s participation in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and global perspectives of human rights around the world. Later in the evening, Freedom University helped organize and host a lively picket at the Wendy’s restaurant in downtown Atlanta, to help put pressure on Wendy’s to sign the CIW’s award-winning Fair Food Program, which helps ensure fair wages and human rights standards in Florida’s tomato industry.

On Thursday, March 14, Director Emiko Soltis and the students of Freedom University’s son jarocho music class woke up at 4am and drove down to Gainesville, Florida, to reunite with music professor Pedro Lopez and join the CIW at the University of Florida for the final action of the tour! Organized as Freedom University’s Mexican son jarocho music ensemble, Son de Sueños, the group made its musical debut at the kickoff to the march! Son de Sueños was so popular, they were invited to perform again at the end of the march at the University of Florida Administration Building, and again at the closing dinner of the tour. Students were inspired by the example and message of the CIW, a coalition of immigrant farmworkers that has led one of the most powerful human rights movements of this generation, and were honored to carry on the legacy of son jarocho in the farmworker movement. In performing sones such as La Bamba, Colás, and El Butaquito, the students of Son de Sueños were partaking in CIW’s beautiful celebratory tradition, which is perhaps the magic behind their victories: by performing the world they want over and over again, it eventually comes into being. CIW celebrates their victories before they win, because the farmworkers know that Wendy’s will eventually sign the Fair Food Agreement, just as Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, and 12 other major food corporations have already done. Wendy’s don’t know it yet.

And this is perhaps the greatest lesson the students learned: by going to school in defiance of Georgia’s segregationist policies, they are already creating the better world they know is possible. Undocumented students have already won, and they know that all young people will soon have equal access to all public universities in Georgia. The Georgia Board of Regents just doesn’t know it yet.

¡Que vivan los trabajadores! ¡Que vivan los estudiantes!

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Laura Soltis