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4 AM: 24-Hour Vigil in Little Rock

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It is almost 4am as I write this at the First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, AR. We are almost halfway through our 24 hour vigil which began at the state headquarters of Senator Blanche Lincoln yesterday afternoon.

We are holding a 24 hour vigil for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act during this Memorial Day congressional recess. When we began the vigil at Senators Lincoln's office we presented her staff with 2000 handwritten letters including 300 from small business owners across this state. Yesterday's batch of handwritten letters brings the total of letters Senator Lincoln has received to 14,000.

This vigil is an unusual tactic in a congressional lobbying effort. But the vigil is anything but unusual in nonviolent action for social and economic justice.

During the vigil we bear witness to the injustice of corporate America, the intimidation, termination and retaliation against workers who are trying to form unions and we pray that those who have the power to make change will use that power.

Senators Lincoln and Pryor of Arkansas are pivotal in our campaign to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Organized labor in Arkansas has run a massive legislative blitz with phone calls, handwritten letters and face to face meetings.

But the vigil takes the campaign to a different level, introducing a more spiritual element and a traditional southern Civil Rights tactic. Faith leaders and clergy led by the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice have already been central to the campaign. Tonight faith leaders assume and even more important role.

Along with faith leaders, other elements of the Democratic Coalition and progressive movement are taking a more important and more central role in the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act. Students and young activists are outside now creating puppets for the march we will have from Senator Lincoln's office to the State Capital.

We will break the vigil this afternoon with a march and a rally to the State Capital calling for an economy that works for all. Ministers, African American and white, young people, civil rights leaders, elected officials and union activists will all step up to increase the call for Senators Lincoln and Pryor to say no to Walmart and Tyson's Foods and support the Employee Free Choice Act.

In a couple of hours, the sun will break over Little Rock and our vigil will be half over. We will continue to pray all day. Then we will march.