On Thursday September 20, 2012 FLOC hosted a Camp Solidarity visit with members of the Beloved Community Center (BCC). The Beloved Community Center is a community based organization that is committed to grassroots empowerment, especially among minorities, within the context and spirit of forging a beloved community for all residents. About 20 members of BCC gathered at the FLOC office to learn more about farmworkers, how they live and work, and current organizing efforts to ensure that all have safe and healthy working conditions and fair wages. Two farmworkers, Natividad and Carmen, joined us to share their stories as women farmworkers. Natividad explained how hard the job is and the difficulties of working in the fields and raising three children at the same time.
In the afternoon we loaded the vans and took a road trip to Nash county, which is one of the top tobacco and sweet potato producing counties in NC, and is home to thousands of farmworkers and dozens of growers. Veronica, the cook at the first camp we visited, showed us around the kitchen and explained to the group how with only one stove and two refrigerators, she cooks for all 25 people living in the camp.
Later we visited Wilson county, which is also among the top tobacco producing counties on NC. In a field nearby the camp, Rev. Johnson, who understands the hardships of tobacco harvesting from his own experiences when he was younger, showed the group how tobacco is harvested, and talked about the dangers of tar and nicotine as well as the pesticides and herbicides.
Following the visits we were joined by President Velasquez who spoke about the importance of building relationships between faith and labor communities, and what a key role BCC has played in pushing Reynolds to the table to talk with FLOC. Rev. Johnson and Wesley shared a message of solidarity and spoke about how crucial it is that we continue to close the black/brown divide and build unity throughout our communities.