The Vision of Day One: The Walk for America’s Children
The more developed among us, tell us that a vision must be written out and made plain. It must be so plain that others feel comfortable choosing to participate. Some are even inspired to make a contribution of their time, talent and energy.
When the words, “The Walk for America’s Children”, are spoken this is the imagery that is generated inside the Lead Coordinator’s mind.
The SUN, the very thing that makes Florida a retirement zone, is just choosing to awaken on the horizon, promising to make its full presence known later on. Campaign Manager grumbles that it’s going to get hot. The Lead Coordinator makes a joke that the Manager is not walking so what does he care?
Approximately 40 people, some in their pajamas, have gathered at the small Ft. Lauderdale Greyhound station. Located off the main road, unless you are looking for it, you can miss it. Across the street is a funeral home. Around the corner is a gas station which serves very bad food. However, the average American would purchase from there.
On September 5, 2013 at 5 am the Lead Coordinator, Walk Staff and supporters meet at the Greyhound Station. The Greyhound staff inside are unsure as to what is happening. They check in with the Campaign Manager. She informs them that the Station is just being used as a landmark. The press conference will not occupy the lobby.
Under the canopy of a shade tree, the Lead Coordinator is reading a tattered copy of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” The Communications Director is going over last minute language changes with the President of the Florida Association of Food Banks. The food pantry representative looks a little nervous. She is not used to the pressure of performance and is concerned about how her words will play out over the media. A local spiritual leader looks cool and calm.
A Sun Sentinel reporter is taking notes as he works the crowd.
The Press Conference begins with a statement from the Communications Director. The By2015:AMERICA staff members and Lead Coordinator are standing behind her, forming a human wall which frames the “televised” picture for the rest of the country. Her podium is a table and stack of peanut butter jars. A microphone is pinned to her shirt and she is speaking from a handwritten statement.
“Thank you for taking time out of your lives to be with us here and now. We are gathered here for a purpose,” the Communication Director begins.
“As we speak, 31 million children live in households that our government classifies as equal to, or below, the poverty-rate. Now, we take some objection to the term ‘poverty-rate’ because the only Administration to ever look at America’s poverty rate was elected fifty years ago. Despite the crucial need for us to talk about poverty and hunger, some will take the actions of this Walk and pervert them, twisting our purpose through the lens of their personality. Our own fellow Americans will make arguments that American citizens are deserving of the poverty they suffer. We disagree. Supremely. The citizens we speak of are children. Children do not deserve the violence we call poverty and hunger.
‘Fortunately, for our less developed Brothers and Sisters, we have allies. We are not alone. We shall now hear from the President of Florida’s Association of Food Banks, whom we at the By2015:AMERICA movement view as a warrior. You have to be a tenacious fighter to do this kind of work in Florid,a where 1.7 million children suffer silently in poverty-rate households.”
Speaking from direct experience, the President of FAFB is eloquent. Inspired by her statement, the food pantry representative is equally eloquent.
The Communications Director thanks everyone for coming out and distributes a Press Release. The paperwork explains the direction of the Walk and gives them a copy of our proposed legislation. The assembled 40 citizens/activists are asked to share the Press Release with all those whom they encounter today.
Without comment, the group behind the Communications Director begins walking away at 6 am sharp, armed with smart phones and backpacks.
The Campaign Manager jumps in a van, driven by a volunteer. He is going ahead to prepare the hotel and dinner reservations for the group. A second member of his team walks with the Lead Coordinator, supervising the taking of END CHILD HUNGER pictures and b-roll with the videographer.
Someone in the group begins singing a song. It is not yet known if it is a folk song, country song, rock song, reggae song, or gospel song. It is a song. And humans sing.
Each member of the Walk has agreed individually to a engage in a “spiritual practice”, in augmentation of the one hour commitment per day to silence.
The group walks, trying to average 3 miles per hour, from 6 am until 9 am. That’s 9 miles in the Florida heat. Effort is made to interact with the people that the Walk crosses. END CHILD HUNGER pictures are constantly being taken. Some people stop and want to pray with us. Video is taken. Phone calls are made to staff members of five allies in Congress, letting them know that the Walk has started. The energy is high as we leave Ft. Lauderdale’s city limits.
Then, for the next three hours, the reality of the fact that we are about to walk 1000 miles kicks in.
A break is scheduled for 9:00. It happens on the side of the road, in the sun, without any shade. Everyone is thirsty. Water bottles are empty. Everyone vows to refill their bottles at every opportunity along the road from now on. So far, no one is cramping. Gatorade and coconut juice are consumed.
30 minutes pass and the Walk continues at 9:30 am. It looks like a long day. The small band of determined activists have until 8 pm to cover 30 miles and this is only the first day.