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The Pilgrimage for Peace and Justice

Witness for Peace SE led a march across the state of North Carolina this month calling for just and humane immigration policies, trade that allows for a fair price paid to producers and workers, as well as human rights for all.

The Pilgrimage was widely covered in the press. Click on the links to see ABC TV coverage of the Pilgrimage in Cary as well as News 14 TV and WECT TV coverage in Wilmington.

Below is a report from Gail Phares of WFP Southeast recapping the Pilgrimage. You can read more and see pictures at

We finished our Pilgrimage yesterday here in Raleigh. It was a good week. We walked in beautiful Wilmington and then in Greenville. Fr. Bob Hudack now an Episcopal priest welcomed us warmly. He helped found St Francis of Assisi Church over 20 years ago.

Juvencio Peralta of AMEXCAN and his intern Sierra connected us with young African American students at Eastern Carolina. The connection between racial profiling of Trayvon Williams and the racial profiling of Hispanics is very clear. We had a great dialogue in the evening at St Pauls Episcopal church with the NAACP, with an aid from Cong. Butterfield's office and many others.

Our walk through Rocky Mount with Saladin and Musak was sobering. Rocky Mount is broken between Edgecome County where African Americans live and upscale Nash County where more affluent people live. Saladin helped found the Black Workers for Justice. It was an honor to walk with him. We had lunch at a homeless shelter that works with people with addictions. We were humbled when were served a delicious lunch including a carrot cake. It was Saladin's birthday.

Wednesday found us in Wilson with the Farm Worker Labor Organizing Committee. We walked with immigrants and farm workers and visited tobacco farms. The farm workers described what it is like to work in the tobacco fields. Many suffer from dehydration and have reaction to the pesticides sprayed on them and on the tobacco. FLOC has a campaign to force RJ Reynolds American Company to help improve conditions in the fields. It was a joy to pass time with the FLOC organizers Emily and Briana. We had a deeply moving dialogue with about 40 Hispanic men and women at lunch at the Guadalupana Church. Many of us cried to heard of the suffering and fear endured by our Hispanic brothers and sisters. There is great racism in both Wilson and Rocky Mount.

On Holy Thursday, we visited the Corporate Headquarters of the Pantry Corporation that owns Kangaroo/BP stores. We asked that they use their influence to get American Tobacco to sit down with farm workers to improve conditions in the field here in NC. Later we held a foot washing ceremony at the Federal Detention Center in Cary.

On Good Friday we walked from Garner into Raleigh in the cold rain. The sky cleared before we reached Raleigh. We received excellent press coverage on ABC news 11, on News 14 Carolina and WRAL - CBS news. In Wilmington and Greenville we received both TV and newspaper coverage. Thank your all for your prayers during our week of Pilgrimage.

Gail Phares