Recipient of 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
Part of MLK lecture series
Kerry Kennedy to moderateLucas Benitez, co-founder and co-director of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, will be a panelist at Speak Truth to Power, part of The Martin Luther King Jr. 2010 Commemorative Lecture Series at Vanderbilt University. The event will be moderated by Kerry Kennedy, American human rights activist and author of Speak Truth to Power, at Benton Chapel at 7:00 p.m.
According to the press release, "Benitez helped secure the first wage increase for tomato pickers in 20 years, exposed and stopped two slavery rings and launched a Labor Action Rights program that collected nearly $100,000 in back wages" and that he "organized a successful boycott of the fast-food chain Taco Bell that was called off in 2005 when the company agreed to address the wages and working conditions of farm workers in the Florida tomato industry."
For more on Benitez, see his remarks upon accepting the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. It was the first time in the award's then-20-year history that it was presented to a U.S.-based organization.
See also this interview by the American Bar Association in 2000, this interview by Free the Slaves in 2005, this 2007 New York Times article, this transcript of his testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in 2008, and the web site of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
Here is the press release for tonight's event:
Kerry Kennedy, human rights activist, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and author of Speak Truth to Power will moderate a panel discussion on activism and justice Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at Vanderbilt University.
The event is free and open to the public and will be held in Benton Chapel.
Kennedy’s book, Speak Truth to Power, seeks to promote a more just and peaceful world by galvanizing public support for international human rights through cultural, educational and Web-based programs. A non-profit organization of the same name was started to engage the general public in an ongoing series of issue-related programs and events, bringing human rights activists and their work to wider audiences.
The book has also inspired a play by Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman, a photographic exhibition by Pulitzer Prize-winner Eddie Adams, a PBS documentary film, and an education packet. The Speak Truth to Power organization is a division of the nonprofit Robert F. Kennedy Memorial.
The panelists at the Vanderbilt event include:
- Lucas Benitez, the co-founder and co-director of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. By educating and organizing fellow migrant farm workers, he has helped secure the first wage increase for tomato pickers in 20 years, exposed and stopped two slavery rings and launched a Labor Action Rights program that collected nearly $100,000 in back wages. He organized a successful boycott of the fast-food chain Taco Bell that was called off in 2005 when the company agreed to address the wages and working conditions of farm workers in the Florida tomato industry.
- Stephen Bradberry, the head organizer of Louisiana ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for ReformNow. ACORN has been active in communities of color for more than 30 years. Bradberry has served in low and moderate-income neighborhoods in Louisiana for more than a decade. His chapter of the national community group, ACORN, has more than 10,000 member families and works specifically in the area of living wages, environmental justice and voting rights.
- Marina Pisklakova, an internationally recognized leading women’s rights activist in Russia. As founder of the National Center for the Prevention of Violence “ANNA” she works on creating an effective system of response to domestic violence by educating governmental officials and the public about the issue of domestic violence in Russia and other countries. For the past 12 years she has been involved in training for newly established crisis centers for women, for law enforcement and other governmental officials on the topics of domestic violence, human trafficking and women’s human rights.
For more information about Speak Truth to Power, visit www.speaktruth.org.