Human-rights campaigner to tour Maine

Ending poverty
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  April 1, 2009

On the heels of news that Maine's unemployment rate is on the rise (2600 jobs were lost here in February), and a Kids Count report that one in five Maine children is living in poverty, the state will host one of the nation's most powerful speakers on economic human rights this week.

Cheri Honkala, a single mother from Pennsylvania who used to be homeless herself, will tour Maine starting on Thursday, and she'll be at Portland's Immanuel Baptist Church (156 High Street) on Monday, April 6, at 6 pm.

The national coordinator of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign will talk about health care, living wages, labor unions, affordable housing, education, and nutrition from the perspective that these are essential human rights. Earlier in the day, she'll visit the offices of Maine's congressional delegation to talk about homelessness.

With luck, these appearances will end with fewer fireworks than many of Honkala's do. The anti-poverty activist has been arrested close to 100 times; in 2004, when she erected a tented "Bushville" under a Central Park bridge during the Republican National Convention, she told New York Magazine: "The point is that you can be homeless in America and rot in any park, but the moment you put up a sign, they can get rid of you."

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