Economic Human Rights Freedom Bus Update - Day 9: KWRU FWD

Tom Boland (
Mon, 15 Jun 1998 16:55:11 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  CC Replies to Kensington Welfare Rights Union <>
[Pictures and more information are available on our website: ]



The Freedom Bus' first event in Atlanta was a rally in the city's downtown
commercial area. Atlanta has become renowned for its policies which
criminalize homelessness, policies aimed at removing homeless people from
public areas downtown. The rally and the tribunal later in the evening were
organized by a large number of organizations, including the Georgia Human
Rights Union (an organization of current and former welfare recipients),
the Center for Human Rights Education, Project South, the Georgia Citizens
Coalition on Hunger, the Georgia Rural-Urban Summit, and many others.

Like our other stops, tens of thousands of welfare recipients have been cut
from the welfare roles in Georgia. "People are coming up to us now whose
food stamps have been cut off and are having to go without food. We demand
our human rights!" said Carolyn Pittman, leader of the Georgia Human Rights

At the tribunal over 200 people listened to testimony after testimony of
economic human rights violations. One woman's mother didn't have access to
adequate health care (needed medication, etc.) and died as a result. A
representative of the Steelworker's Union (and member of the Labor Party)
told us how thousands had been laid off from the steel industry in recent
years. The story echoed the steel and autoworkers in Lorain, Ohio, the coal
mines of West Virginia, the vacant factories in Kensington, and so many
other stories across the country: Since 1971, one factory has gone from
1,500 workers to only 300, but produces three times as much steel. Now, the
Atlantic Steel plant is shutting down in December, eliminating what jobs
are left. Like other industries, the steel industry is replacing living
wage union jobs with high technology and low-wage jobs.

The panel of judges included civil rights leader Reverend C.T. Vivian,
Stuart Acuff of the Atlanta Labor Council, and Tomeka Wynn of the Georgia
Human Rights Union. C.T. Vivian, who was a leader in Martin Luther King's
"Poor People's March," presented the judgement in a stirring speech. "In
the richest country in the world," he said, "it is not only irresponsible,
it is immoral" to have the kind of devastating poverty we are facing. We
not only need to recognize our rights, we need to act to secure them, to
make our government responsible for ensuring our rights. "When the 1% who
"make it" refuse the right to live to the other 99%, the 99% must stand up
and change things." This campaign, he continued, represents the next steps
of this struggle, a growing movement for economic human rights.

Below is appended a poem written by one of the Freedom Bus Riders:

Ragged Soldiers

Spirits beaten to silence no more
Revived hearts waiting not for freedom
But for the people's people's movement
A revolution of brothers and sisters

Veins that bleed bright ruby red
Mothers, daughters, fathers and sons
Ragged soldiers in the sacred struggle
Workers in a battle to be won

Charged with a crime no more than stealing a breath
While children's hungry voices rock them to rest
Tattered clothes, blistered feet
Monies needed for families to eat

Is no this a land of milk and honey
Where the treasures of life transcend coveted money
Coveted money
Coveted money

Money coveted for things we cannot eat
Luxurious toys we cannot wear
Things that cannot clothe naked hearts
Nor naked bodies pierced with stares

We need shelter from her rain
Sanctuary from the pains
Our careless love has caused her shame
Wasteful love our claim to fame

Ragged soldiers, we stand with pride
Tattered soldiers, dignity no hide
Battered soldiers, courage we show
Courageous soldiers in numbers we grow.

by Monica N. Dillon
Freedom Bus Rider
June 98

[Pictures and more information are available on our website: ]

Or contact us at:

Kensington Welfare Rights Union
PO Box 50678
Philadelphia, PA 19132-9720
215/203-1950 FAX

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