New College of Florida Students to Remember Nan Freeman with Candlelight Vigil, January 25

January 24, 2012—The New College of Florida student group Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) will lead a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in memory of Nan Freeman, a New College student who died tragically on that day 40 years ago while aiding migrant workers striking for union recognition and better treatment. Freeman was struck and killed by a sugar cane truck at the entrance of a plant outside Belle Glade, Fla.
The vigil, which is open to the surrounding Sarasota/Bradenton communities, begins at 7 pm at the Robert and Beverly Koski Academic Plaza, outside the Academic Center at 5800 Bay Shore Road in Sarasota. Students will share Freeman’s story, light candles and then walk together to the bay front.
Temple Beth Israel on Longboat Key, Fla., will also honor Freeman’s memory during Shabbat Services on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.
Freeman (1953-1972) was in her first year at New College studying Spanish and sociology. She had graduated second in her class of 460 at Memorial High School in her hometown of Wakefield, Mass. Her high school yearbook noted her future plans in social work. At the time of her death, friends noted her joy and enthusiasm and that “her whole way of living was reaching out to people.” Memorial services were held in her honor throughout the country, and farm labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez wrote her eulogy.
“To us she is a sister who picketed with farm workers in the middle of the night because of her love for justice,” Chavez wrote. “She is a young woman who fulfilled the commandments by loving her neighbors even to the point of sacrificing her own life. To us, Nan Freeman is Kadosha in the Hebrew tradition, ‘a holy person’ to be honored and remembered for as long as farm workers struggle for justice.”
“We are proud of New College’s long history of supporting justice for the men and women who harvest the food we eat,” says New College student Claire Comiskey on behalf of SWER. “On the 40th anniversary of Ms. Freeman’s martyrdom for the cause of farmworker justice, we recommit ourselves with greater tenacity and dedication than ever before, to carry her torch forward and do all we possibly can to create a more just, more humane agricultural industry.”
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Founded in 1960, New College of Florida is a national leader in the arts and sciences. Consistently ranked among the top public liberal arts colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and The Princeton Review, New College attracts highly motivated, academically talented students from some 40 states and nearly 25 foreign countries. A higher proportion of New College students receive Fulbright awards than graduates from virtually all other colleges and universities.

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