PALM BEACH COUNTY -- Another day, another 12 miles of progress as marchers neared the halfway mark in their 50-mile, 5-day journey from the fields of Pahokee to the exclusive island enclave of Palm Beach. But while the two days covered the same distance, the marchers’ experience covering those 12 miles couldn’t have been more different.
While Tuesday’s launch of the Build a New World March began in the shadow of the abandoned labor camp where workers were housed and held against their will in Florida’s most recent forced labor prosecution, Wednesday’s leg made noticeable progress away from the isolated inland community of Pahokee and toward the heavier trafficked, coastal city of West Palm Beach, with cars and trucks honking their approval and filming the colorful march with their phones as they drove by in the adjoining lane.
And while Day 1 of the march took place under a strong South Florida sun that left many marchers squeezing in shoulder-to-shoulder under shade tents during the day’s occasional breaks, Day 2 greeted the marchers with a steady, cold rain that likewise sent marchers searching for precious space under the tents during lunch and water breaks, but this time seeking shelter from the wet weather rather than the scorching sun.
And through it all, marchers kept their spirits high, buoyed by the arrival of bilingual hip-hop artist and activist — and friend of the CIW for over 20 years — Olmeca, whose live performances and deejay contributions on the sound truck throughout the day kept marchers moving, happy, and thinking across every step of the day’s 12 miles; and by the participation of many of the younger allies on the march, in particular the high school students from Mississippi who traveled with their teacher to join all five days of the march, and who found their voices on Day 2 as they led chants and spoke of the reasons why they traveled half way across the country to support farmworkers from Florida fighting for fundamental human rights.