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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Greens choose veteran Poor People’s Economic Human Rights leader Chris Honkala

2012 Green Party Vice President with Jill Stein for President
Compiled and edited by 
Carolyn Bennett
We do not seek pity. We seek power that ends human rights conditions threatening all people. Violations of economic human rights deny the birthright to Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness reads the mission of the organization founded by Cheri Honkala.
The woman chosen for vice president by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has been called “a speaker with a powerful message about ending poverty in America.”

Who is she?

Minnesota-born Pennsylvanian Cheri Honkala is a leading advocate for human rights who speaks worldwide about the struggle against poverty in the United States and the denial of basic economic human rights. She has brought life stories and voices of America’s poor and homeless people to the United Nations Human Rights Commission/Council, to the World Social Forum, and to other international bodies.

Cheri Honkala is National Coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

Listed among her efforts, in addition working with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, are speaking to 148 governments at the United Nations about ending poverty in America; leading a March of the Americas, the World Summit of the Poor, and a 125-mile march of homeless and poor from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to the United Nations in protest of welfare reform and poverty as a violation of economic human rights.

Cheri Honkala has served on the Urban-Rural Mission, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, the Pennsylvanians for Choice, the Alliance of Native Americans, and the Annie Smart Leadership Development boards of directors, among others. She refused to sign the Pennsylvania Agreement of Mutual responsibility (AMR on behalf of all welfare recipients on the grounds that without adequate guarantees of childcare, healthcare, and jobs at a living wage, the AMR is an unfair contract). Pennsylvania newspapers have named her among “the region’s 100 most powerful” and “Woman of the Year.”

Cheri Honkala is an American anti-poverty advocate, founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) and founder of the National Coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

In June of 1977, Cheri Honkala and other members of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union organized the “‘March for Our Lives’ from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to United Nations in New York to protest human rights violations in the United States caused by welfare reform.” 

In 2011, Honkala was the Green Party candidate for Sheriff of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This coming Saturday, Green Party 2012 presidential candidate Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala are expected to be officially nominated at the Green Party national convention in Baltimore, Maryland.

What is Honkala’s
Poor People’s Economic Rights Campaign?

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is a rising movement “that unites the poor across color lines,” says the organization’s published mission.

“Poverty afflicts Americans of all colors. Every day more and more of us are downsized and impoverished.

“We share a common interest in uniting against the prevailing conditions and around our vision of a society where we all have the right to health care, housing, living wage jobs, and access to quality primary, secondary, and higher education.

“The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign includes people of many backgrounds: mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents; the unemployed, the working poor, the downsized, the homeless, the victims of welfare reform and NAFTA, the cast-asides of the new economy; we are social workers, religious leaders, labor leaders, artists, lawyers, and other people of conscience. We are young and old. We live in rural areas and in urban centers.”

Anchored in
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“We are committed to uniting the poor as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty everywhere and forever. We work to accomplish this by promoting economic human rights as anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 23, 25, and 26. These articles provide for the human right to housing, health care, a living-wage job, and education.

Declaration of Human Rights
Eleanor Roosevelt 
“The founding creed of the United States of America (the 1776 Declaration of Independence proclaiming equally the 'unalienable rights') asserting Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness inspired the formulation of rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by the United States in 1948. However, while it claims to defend human rights, the United States of America has consistently ignored and undermined the global consensus on economic human rights.”

Full implementation of these rights means that “our country, the richest, most powerful in the world, would be living out the true meaning of its creed.

“We do not seek pity. We do seek power to end conditions that threaten all of us with economic human rights violations denying us our birthright to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Biographer Anne Roth wrote about Cheri Honkala: “What she is fighting for seems to be a chance for our entire nation’s poor to meet the basic needs for survival. 
This is not a fight for a bigger handout, but a fight for a realistic opportunity to exist under the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sources and notes



“Biography of: Cheri Honkala” (author: Anne Roth), http://www1.appstate.edu/~clarkne/socm/bios/honkala.htm
Appalachian State University, http://www1.appstate.edu/~clarkne/socm/bios/honkala.htm


The Kensington Welfare Rights Union is a progressive social justice, political action, and advocacy group of, by, and for the poor and homeless operating out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and led by Galen Tyler. The group was formed in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood in April of 1991.

KWRU is a part of the national organization, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, a coalition of grassroots organizations, community groups, and non-profit organizations committed to uniting the poor across color lines as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty. KWRU is also a member of the steering committee of the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition. The KWRU was written about in David Zucchino’s book Myth of the Welfare Queen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensington_Welfare_Rights_Union

Myth of the Welfare Queen

A reviewer of David Zucchino’s 1999 work said the author had “written an unsentimental yet powerful narrative describing life in the trenches of the welfare system,” a recounting that “reminds us that we cannot disregard the urgency of poverty [because] it affects all of us regardless of economic situation or anyone’s opinion of welfare recipients.”

“Zucchino’s attempt to deconstruct the myth of the welfare queen exposes many unsavory details about life below the poverty line: trash-picking, sex for money, children left in charge of other children.

“This book invites readers step into the shoes of a desperately poor person, leaving behind moral judgments and uninformed opinions.”

The Myth of the Welfare Queens “is a story of two women on welfare, a chronicle of daily life with Cheri Honkala, a welfare recipient and activist, and Odessa Williams a welfare grandmother.”


Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
Larry Bresler, Executive Director
2671 Haddam Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44120
Phone: (216) 651-2606
email: lbresler@economichumanrights.org
email: info@economichumanrights.org

March to Fulfill the Dream Contacts:
Cheri Honkala
phone: 267-439-8419
email: cherihonkalappehrc@gmail.com

Jeff Rousset
phone: 845-642-8145
email: jeffppehrc@gmail.com

Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign
 Artists/Musicians Affiliate Members
Alpha Platoon / Seattle
B Girl Media / Seattle
Carvell Holloway for Strokely/California
De-Bug / San Jose CA
Elena Rose Productions/California
Gathering of Hearts / Kentwood, Louisiana
Harvey Finkle Photography / Philadelphia
Hip Hop Congress
Junkyard Empire/California
Just Artistic Terrorism / Minneapolis
Kevin Sandbloom/California
Lady T for Natural High/California
Mark Webber/California
Poor Rich Kids (PRK ) / Philadelphia
Raz-B (formerly of B2K)/California
Rebel Diaz / Bronx NY
Rock & Rap Confidential/California
Rock A Mole Productions/California
Rondavoux Records / California
Street Level Youth Media / Chicago
Talissa Love/California
Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural/California
True Mutiny / Minneapolis
Umojafest P.E.A.C.E. Center / Seattle
Untold Legacy Production Company / Kentwood, Louisiana
Zumix Radio/Boston

Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign Members
Agape Love Ministry to the Homeless (Cleveland OH)
Alabama Arise
Alexandria United Taxi-drivers Organization (Alexandria, VA)
Alternatives for Developing Change (Chico, CA)
Arise for Social Justice (Springfield, MA)
ASL Advocates (Euclid, OH)
Big Creek People in Action (Caretta, WV)
BOSS and Street Spirit (Oakland/Berkeley, CA)
California PPEHRC Committees
CCove (Philadelphia, PA)
Center for Economic and Social Rights (New York, NY)
Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (international)
Centro Comunitario Juan Diego (Chicago, IL)
Centro de Trabajadores Agriculas (El Paso, TX)
Chattanoogans and North Georgians for Economic Rights - CHANGER (Chattanooga, TN)
Coalition of Immokalee Workers (Immokalee, FL)
Coalition to Protect Public Housing (Chicago, IL)
Community Homeless Alliance Ministry (San Jose, CA)
Deaf and Deaf-Blind Committee on Human Rights
(North Olmsted, OH)
Delaware Housing Coalition (Dover, DE)
Direct Action Welfare Group (Charleston, WV)
Domestic Workers (Los Angeles, CA)
The Employment Project (New York, NY)
Empowerment Center of Greater Cleveland (Cleveland, OH)
Friends & Residents of Arthur Capper and Carrollsburg
(Washington, DC)
Georgia Human Rights Union/Project South (Atlanta, GA)
Hip Hop Congress (National)
The Nashville Homeless Power Project (Nashville, TN)
Human Rights Tech (Philadelphia, PA)
Idahoans Struggling in Solidarity (Boise, ID)
Independent Media Center-Philadelphia (PA)
Iowa PPEHRC ( Iowa City, IW)
Ithaca Workers Rights Center (Ithaca, NY)
Jesus People Against Pollution (Columbia, MS)
JEDI for Women (Salt Lake City, UT)
Just Housing! (Aurora, IL)
Kensington Welfare Rights Union (Philadelphia, PA)
La Mujer Obrera (El Paso, TX)
Lifetime (Oakland, CA)
Loring Nicolett Alternative School (Minneapolis, MN)
Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA, CAN)
Louisiana Injured Workers (New Orleans, LA)
Low-Income Self-Help Center (San Jose, CA)
Luzerne County Residents Union (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Massachusetts Welfare Rights Union (Mattapan, MA)
Miami Valley Full Employment Council (Dayton, OH)
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (Detroit, MI)
Mid-South Peace & Justice Center (Memphis, TN)
Minnesota PPEHRC (Minneapolis, MN)
Mississippi MAP (Jackson, MS)
Mormons for Equality and Social Justice (Salt Lake City, UT)
National Alliance of HUD Tenants (Nat)
 National Welfare Rights Union
 Network of Spiritual Progressives ( Pittsburgh, PA)
New Jersey STEPS
 New Jerusalem (Philadelphia, PA)
 New Labor (NJ)
 North Carolina Farmworkers Project
 Ohio Empowerment Coalition ( Cincinnati, OH)
 Organizer's Learning Center (IL)
 Organize! Ohio
People Organized to Win Employment Rights
 (San Francisco, CA)
 Poor People United (Rochester, NY)
 Poor Voices United (Atlantic City, NJ)
 Portland Organization to Win Economic Rights (Portland, ME)
 Real Change (Seattle, WA)
 The Refuge (St. Petersburg, FL)
 Rochester Poor People's Coalition (Rochester, NY)
 Rochester SWAA ( Rochester, NY)
Rock A Mole Productions (Los Angeles, CA)
 The Rural Coalition (national)
 San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness (San Francisco, CA)
The Simple Way (Philadelphia, PA)
 Sisters Of The Road (Portland, OR)
Sisters Together Ending Poverty (Boston, MA)
 Skylight Pictures (New York, NY)
 Social Welfare Action Alliance (national)
 Southerners for Economic Justice (Durham, NC)
 Southsiders Together Organizing for Power (STOP) (Chicago, IL)
 Stand for Our Neighbors (Washington, DC)
 STOP Targeting Ohio's Poor (Cleveland, OH)
 Tampa Bay Action Group (St Petersburg, FL)
 TRASA (Salt Lake City, UT)
 UNC Housekeepers Union (Chapel Hill, NC)
 United Clevelanders Against Poverty (Cleveland, OH)
 United Workers Association (Baltimore, MD)
 U.S – El Salvador Sister Cities
 Voices of Illinois Poor People (Dekalb, IL)
 West Virginia Listening Project (WV)
 Women's Project (Little Rock, AR)
 Womens Economic Agenda Project (Oakland, CA)
 Women in Transition (Louisville, KY)
 Western Regional Advocacy Project (Multi-State)
Youth Action Research Group (Washington, DC)

PPEHRC Coordinating Council Members
 Ethel Long-Scott, WEAP
 Bonnie Macri, JEDI
 Cecilia Perry, PPEHRC legal committee
 Galen Tyler, KWRU
 Khalilah Collins, Women in Transition
 Monica Beemer, Sisters of the Road
 Jesse Vear, Portland Organizing to Win Economic Rights
 Anne Patterson, MN PPEHRC
 Mary Bricker Jenkins, Social Welfare Action Alliance
 Carol Steele, Coalition to Protect Public Housing
 Diane King, United Clevelanders Against Poverty
 Shamako Noble, Hip Hop Congress

 Larry Bresler, Executive Director
 Cheri Honkala, National Organizer
 For other information, email info[at]economichumanrights.org


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