The Rev. Susan Smith and Veronica Pearson are seen pointing to Mexico on a world map as they prepare for their 10 day trip with the Witness for Peace program to study the Roots of Migration. They are going at the recommendation of the Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the Hickory Branch NAACP. Rev. Smith is the Chair of the Hickory Branch NAACP Committee on Community Coordination, and Ms. Pearson is Secretary of the civil rights organization.
The Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the Hickory Branch NAACP, was a WFP delegate last year, and recommended both women for this year’s trip because of their leadership in working to acheive the 14 Point People’s Agenda of the NC NAACP which includes protecting the rights of immigrants from Latin America and other nations. “I believe this experience will broaden their worldview, and give them a desire to delve deeper into the struggle for justice and truth”, he said. Rev. Smith is the Chair of the Hickory Branch NAACP Committee on Community Coordination, and Ms. Pearson is Secretary of the civil rights organization.
As a result of free trade deals between the U.S. and Mexico, the quantity of cheap imported corn in Mexico has exploded in recent years, undercutting the locally grown product and driving small farmers out of business, a significant blow in a country where 10 million people – a quarter of the workforce – live off the land. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was enacted in 1994, roughly 1.8 million people have been displaced from the Mexican agricultural sector while the rural poverty rate has climbed to 76 percent. The Witness for Peace delegation will meet with local leaders working in economics, human rights, labor, and politics as well as migrants and poor people. The trip includes time in Mexico City, Matias Romero, and Oaxaca.
The two women had to raise funds to pay for the trip, and are grateful for all those who are supporting their journey. The Rev. Smith, Associate Pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory appreciates her church’s support saying, “This trip is in line with our desire at Exodus Church to reach out to all people, and we know that immigration reform is urgently needed for immigrants and all Americans.” Veronica Pearson, a member of Morning Star First Baptist in Hickory is new to the immigration reform issue. “I don’t know much about the problem, and I am looking forward to learning why people are rushing to our country to find work” she said. After the trip, both women will be available to present what they learn to schools, churches, and civic groups.