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Boston, college

February 27: Northeastern Food & Justice Part II

The last day of Food and Justice Summit began with a closing ceremony of sorts.

That’s an oxymoron, isn’t it.

a standing ovation

We all got together for breakfast, and listened to people talk about what this experience has done for them. It was great hearing fellow attendees share about how this summit has expanded their horizons and opened their eyes to the food issues around the world.

But the most moving speech of all came from a woman who had come up from Florida for this weekend.

She, and the 3 other women to her left, are part of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; they rode a bus up here, sleeping in churches and community centers along the way, to protest their rights as tomato workers in Boston. This woman gave us a vivid picture of the kind of living and working conditions they have to endure while picking tomatoes; it was so shocking to me that there could be so much injustice here, domestically. in the United States. These workers (both women and men) work crazy-long hours in the scorching heat, barely earning enough to support their families. Their speech, their very presence, encouraged all of us students to join them in their protest/march against Stop & Shop a few hours later.

So later that day, when I walked to Copley Square in downtown Boston, this was the sight that greeted me:

Walking into the crowd, I saw a range of people, from the young to the old, both native and foreign to Boston, all gathered here to fight for 1 cent more per pound of tomato harvested.

a tv crew interviewing a young protestor

a pair of elderly women braving the cold for 1 more cent.

Amidst the crowds of students and Bostonians, you could clearly distinguish who the CIW members were; they had the most serious faces and the most urgent shouts. Because although everyone in the square was protesting together in solidarity, this was going to directly affect them the most; this was their LIVING they were fighting for.

Before the actual march itself, there was a speak-out; a bunch of speakers from local pastors to organization leaders gave speeches, reminding everyone why and for whom we were marching that day.

Josh Viertel, the president of Slow Food USA

When all the talking was done, we were given basic directions for the march (i.e. in which direction we would be going, who to follow, etc.). Slowly, everyone shifted together as one body, heading towards the crosswalk for the march.

Finally we took to the streets!

Escorted by the police, this huge line of people walked the streets of Boston, raising awareness for this issue that so many American had never even heard of.

This was my first time participating in ANYTHING like this, so I felt so out of my element. But even though I didn’t know what I was doing, it was an eye-opening experience; I was marching for something so much bigger than myself and this was the first time that I felt such solidarity with people I had never even seen before.

So even though I was totally out of my comfort zone, and it was freezing cold, this was something I will never, ever regret doing. I wish I could convey the experience to you guys. If you want more information, please follow the links below.

So that’s how I ended my weekend in Boston; I’ve still got one more post from my time in Beantown to put up, but that’s the more informal side of my trip (which is why I decided to make it a separate post). I’m super excited for it, because hanging out and eating with my friend was a huge reason why this weekend was so much fun. I’ll get to work on it ASAP!

But, if you still want more information:

To read more about the Coalition of Immokalee workers, click here.

And read more about the Boston march here.

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