Day 3 - Economic Human Rights Freedom Bus Update: KWRU FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 5 Jun 1998 23:16:26 -0700 (PDT)


FWD   CC Replies to Kensington Welfare Rights Union <kwru@libertynet.org>


Economic Human Rights Freedom Bus Update
June 3, 1998

Day 3 of the Freedom From Unemployment, Hunger and Homelessness Bus
Tour!

[Pictures and more information are available on our website:
http://www.libertynet.org/kwru ]


Albany and Rochester, NY to Lorain, OH



The Freedom Bus left the office of ARISE for Social Justice in
Springfield, MA at 6:30 in the morning. Arriving in Albany, NY the
freedom riders dramatically marched into the "Does Work End Poverty?"
conference just as Cheri Honkala (Executive Director of the Kensington
Welfare Rights Union) began her address to the conference. Hosted at
SUNY Albany, the conference was a gathering of service providers, social
welfare advocates, academics, and representatives from a variety of
other agencies and organizations.

Cheri's message was direct: The only way that we're going to change
things in this country is by building organization, by building a
massive movement capable of reaching the majority of  people in this
country. And like any struggle in history,  it must be led by those most
affected. However, people  from all walks of life have an essential role
to play.

Before leaving the conference, the Freedom Bus' human  rights choir
performed on stage, receiving a standing ovation. Many at the conference
showed their support of the bus riders.

>From Albany, the bus traveled to Rochester, where we were hosted by a
number of social work students, recent social work grads, and community
members from various organizations. Like everywhere we have been, people
in Rochester were hurting - and dying - from the economic changes taking
place in this country. Massive downsizing by Kodak and Xerox have rocked
Rochester. Welfare recipients, of many different races, told of their
struggles to survive and meet the confusing, often contradictory new
welfare rules.

The freedom bus brought inspiration to the local organizers, who
resolved to try to come to New York City for the July 1st tribunal.
"It's not enough to beg for our freedom, it's not enough to try and
lobby for our freedom, but we need to build organization to take back
this country to everyone is guaranteed, as human beings, the right to
the basic necessities of life," was the message at the rally.

One pastor told us how his church, with its poor congregation, was
struggling for its survival. With new workfare requirements, much of his
congregation can no longer attend church - they have to work all Sunday
(even though workfare jobs provide nowhere near living wages.) Other
churches in the area have closed. Churches, which are often one of the
few positive and stable institutions in otherwise devastated
communities, are under economic assault in Rochester.

Leaving Rochester, we arrived in Lorain, Ohio at 2 AM. We were greeted
by a welcoming crew who had stayed up through the night with a banner
"Bienvenidos: Lorain Welcomes the Freedom Bus."

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For more information, visit our webpage at:
http://www.libertynet.org/kwru

Or contact us at:

Kensington Welfare Rights Union
NUHHCE, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
PO Box 50678
Philadelphia, PA 19132-9720
215/203-1945
215/203-1950 FAX
email: kwru@libertynet.org

---
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