Farmworkers prevail in a long confrontation with Burger King, Dave Zirin interviews Mary Tillman, This Brave Nation debuts June 1 on The



For decades, scholars have lamented the historical and civic illiteracy of the American public, blaming everything from the homogenized textbooks found in most classrooms to the gutting of civics courses to the all-consuming obsession with celebrity culture. Technology, in particular, seems to be a favorite culprit: in 1985

Neil Postman

‘s jeremiad against television, Amusing Ourselves to Death, warned of that relatively new medium’s focus on entertainment over argument. Now it’s the Internet that’s to blame, as many young people get their ideas from web videos instead of from reading–or even watching TV news. But why not make technology your ally?

On Sunday, June 1,

This Brave Nation

— a video collaboration between The Nation and

Brave New Films

–will release the first in a five-part series of intergenerational conversations. A kind of “living history” project composed of short videotaped talks, This Brave Nation brings together the most intelligent, passionate and creative voices of one generation with the activists, journalists and artists of the next to dialogue on loves, lives, politics and history. Each discussion will be produced as both a five-minute video and a thirty-minute minidocumentary, which will be collected in a DVD box set. The first video is a talk between Ella Baker Center founder

Van Jones

and the longtime leader of the Sierra Club,

Carl Pope

. Other This Brave Nation participants include union organizer

Dolores Huerta

with musician

Bonnie Raitt

; activist and folk singer

Pete Seeger

with environmental justice organizer

Majora Carter

; ACLU director

Anthony Romero

with teenage peace activist

Ava Lowery

; and author, activist and politician

Tom Hayden

with Nation columnist and Shock Doctrine author

Naomi Klein

. Videos will be released each Sunday for four weeks leading up to a live event in Los Angeles on July 13.

Finally, This Brave Nation is sponsoring a related contest in which readers can nominate young heroes (under 30) who are making a difference in their local communities. Check out

and nominate yourself or someone you know, view the series trailer and find out how you can be a part of This Brave Nation.



Coalition of Immokalee Workers

(CIW), a community-based organization of migrant agricultural workers in southwest Florida, scored a Whopper-sized victory on May 23 when

Burger King

agreed to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers harvesting tomatoes for the company’s Florida suppliers. Burger King had been refusing to pay a penny-per-pound surcharge to growers to support a wage hike–a plan industry rivals

Yum! Brands



agreed to in 2005 and 2007–but CIW’s unwavering corporate-pressure campaign, a hearing chaired by Senator

Bernie Sanders

and reams of bad publicity finally forced the fast-food giant to cave.

The surcharge will mean at least a 40 percent salary increase for farmworkers often earning $50 a day or less. Burger King also agreed to enforce strict workplace guidelines for its suppliers, in an industry where backbreaking work is the norm and forced labor is not uncommon. “The exploitation of farmworkers should not be tolerated in Florida,” testified Fast Food Nation author

Eric Schlosser

during the April Senate hearing. “It should not be tolerated anywhere in the United States. There are many social problems that are extremely difficult to solve. This is not one of them.”


“If it had happened to someone else, Pat would be busting through walls to find the truth.” So said

Mary Tillman

, mother of NFL player turned Army Ranger

Pat Tillman

, who was killed in Afghanistan in April 2004 under shadowy circumstances. We were first told that Pat was killed by the Taliban. Then we were told it was a case of “friendly fire.” Now, after four years, seven investigations and two Congressional hearings, questions linger about how Pat died, why the circumstances of his death were covered up and who knew what when.

Mary Tillman and her family are determined to expose the cover-up surrounding Pat’s death. They also want to take on a criminal Administration, an illegal war in Iraq and the way entities like the National Football League have exploited Pat’s memory while doing nothing to help the search for the truth.

The Nation‘s sports correspondent,

Dave Zirin

, spoke with Mary Tillman about her new book, Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman. Zirin was surprised to find not a grieving parent but a fierce advocate with the kind of steady strength that is simply humbling. An excerpt of Zirin’s interview appears below; a full transcript is available at

DZ: It seems the NFL has taken many opportunities to commemorate Pat, but they don’t want to get behind you. Do you think they want to have it both ways?

MT: I think they haven’t gone out of their way to help; they’ve exploited Pat just like the military. I do believe that. I mean, they have a beautiful statue to him at Cardinal Stadium. I don’t know if that’s more for us or him; I feel like it’s more for them. It’s sad for me to say that, but I think it’s true. They haven’t really helped to try to find out what happened to Pat.

DZ: They have tremendous power as an entity…

MT: Oh, absolutely. But there has been no effort to find out. You know, and the fact that players who played with him wanted to wear his number [and] they wouldn’t let them do that. It’s a minor thing, I suppose, but at the same time I think it’s kind of telling. It’s like, “OK, we had the jersey dedication, we did this; let’s move on.” I think that speaks a lot.

DZ: If you could say something to the last two NFL commissioners, Roger Goodell and Paul Tagliabue, if they were here right now, what would that be?

MT: Well, I would say to them that they exploited Pat no differently than the military. You know, this is a young man who was quite unique. He was trying to do the right thing, and it would be the right thing to try and find out what happened to him.


On page 27 readers will find an ad paid for by

America’s Leadership Team for Long Range Population-Immigration-Resource Planning

. Needless to say, we disagree with the ad’s premise and politics. Our ad policy can be found at

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