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Toledo activists, organizers, headed to North Carolina

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    About 50 people with the Toledo-Based Farm Labor Organizing Committee rally together , April 11, 2018, outside the 7-Eleven on Bancroft Street near the University of Toledo.

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    Baldemar Velasquez is the founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the organizer of the trip.

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FLOC12p-8

About 50 people with the Toledo-Based Farm Labor Organizing Committee rally together , April 11, 2018, outside the 7-Eleven on Bancroft Street near the University of Toledo.

THE BLADE
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Seeing is believing.

That’s why a group of mostly African-American and Latino activists and organizers from the Toledo area will board a bus Wednesday and head south to learn firsthand of the struggles both communities faced in the past and present.

The local Black and Brown Coalition comprised of six minority organizing groups — the Toledo Community Coalition, NAACP, Local 500 of Laborers Union, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), Latins United, and FLOC Homies Union — will be embarking on a four-day road trip to North Carolina.

“We’re trying to sort of bridge our cultures, particularly the people who are engaged in civil rights, human rights in our communities, and create a more unified group that we need to understand each others life challenges,” said Baldemar Velasquez, FLOC founder and organizer of the trip.

On Thursday the group will visit the Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C., the site of the original sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters that sparked the national sit-in movement. They will have a guided tour of the museum hosted by one of the original students that participated in the sit-ins.

The group will then travel to  Dudley, N.C. on Friday to visit the farm workers involved in FLOC’s campaign again North Carolina tobacco company Reynolds American, Inc. FLOC has for years criticized the company regarding its labor practices, and in April the group launched a national boycott of Reynolds’ VUSE e-cigarette brand.

They will visit labor camps and speak with workers about their struggle to be recognized and the challenges they have encountered.

Each night the group will meet to discuss the day’s experience.

“We thought that Latinos would benefit by touring the Civil Rights Museum,” Mr. Velasquez said. “Then we’ll visit farm workers and see their experiences as immigrant workers coming to work in the tobacco fields in the deep south and the racism they experience. And now with the immigration debate and the pressure that put on their families and lives we’re hoping the black community can get some understanding of that reality.”

Contact Javonte Anderson at janderson@theblade.com419-724-6065, or on Twitter @JavonteA.

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