Louisiana resident Cherri Foytlin, mother to six children and wife to displaced Deepwater oil rig worker Forest Foytlin, has had enough. As her family’s livelihood is increasingly threatened by financial deprivation, Ms. Foytlin has run out of time.
Beginning March 13th, 2011, Ms. Foytlin will embark on a journey that she hopes will forever turn the tide of destruction left in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Ms. Foytlin will walk 1,243 miles from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. En route she hopes to garner enough support to captivate the nation with her message of change.
Ms. Foytlin has been fighting for the welfare of the families in the Gulf since the spill first began. She has cried and pleaded for president Obama to restore the people’s faith in the government by demonstrating accountability, transparency, and support towards residents affected by the oil spill. Prompted by desperation, but drive by hope, this walk represents her final attempt to reach the administration.
“This is a pilgrimage of love for the people of the Gulf. I am taking their concerns about health, the economy, the environment and the claims process to the President of the United States. I asked him to come down at the height of the spill so he could meet the people who were truly impacted. My request fell on deaf ears, but we will not be ignored. My walk is a universal and non-partisan event; it is about preserving our civil rights as a nation, and our human rights as a global community”
Foytlin’s lineage permeates many generations of history on this continent, with ancestors reaching back to pre-colonial days. She has relatives who came to America on boats – both in chains and as free men. Her grandfather came over mountains to the south from Mexico. Her great-grandmother died in passage, while trying to make a life for her children. Foytlin’s uncle was a member of the United States Navy who served through World War II aboard the U.S.S. Franklin, until it sunk into the Pacific Ocean. Her family has served through every war in American history and she is taking this journey in an attempt to protect the opportunities that her ancestors fought so hard to provide.
Foytlin’s team will consist of the two official Project Gulf Impact campers, film and photography professionals, local gulf activists, and musicians. Throughout the expedition, Cherri and her team will visit and pay homage to several cities whose heritage feature significant events in human and environmental rights history. Drawing inspiration from past leaders and movements that have driven the American people to implement change, Foytlin hopes to inspire true change.
Ms. Foytlin will dedicate every day of her journey to a cause that correlates to civil liberties, environmental rights, human rights, or past tragedies.
Days of dedication: (samples)
- One day to the 11 lives lost on the DWH.
- One day for all the birds and land wildlife lost, injured or relocated.
- One day for oil workers, who to date are still not back at work.
- One day for the clean up workers.
- One day for the people who participated of the Vehicles of Opportunity program.
- One day for the fishermen – crabbers, shrimpers, oystermen – recreational and commercial.
- One day for the people now ill from the affects of the oil and dispersants.
- One day for the lost cultures of ALL my people in the Gulf.
- One day for the beaches.
- One day for the marsh and bayou.
- One day for my brothers and sisters trying to make a difference in the Gulf.
- One day for the children of the Gulf.
- One day for the elderly of the Gulf.
- One day for the doctors who have been willing help.
- One day for the people of Exxon Valdez who rushed to us to help.
- One day for the scientists who have been willing to tell the truth.
- One day for citizens who have paid for independent test results on water, air and blood.
- One day for the sea creatures lost – shrimp, mollusks, dolphins, fish.
- One day for local government officials, and candidates, who have been vocal in their attempts to get help for us – Billy Nunngessor, Mark Davis, Milton Gordon and A.G. Crowe.
- One day for the people of Alabama.
- One day for the people of Texas.
- One day for the people of Louisiana.
- One day for the people of Florida.
- One day for the people of Mississippi.
- One day for domesticated pets suffering from health problems from the spill, or displaced by people that can no longer afford to care for them.
- One day to the people of Grand Bois, and others who live next to land fills where potentially harmful waste has been dumped.
- One day for those who were forced to relocate across the nation to escape the toxic conditions.
- One day for those still waiting for their claims to be approved or fulfilled by the GCCF.
- One day for those who have lost their homes due to foreclosure, or being unable to pay the rent.
- One day for the victims of hurricanes in the Gulf.
- One day for my family.
- One day for workers across the nation, who have lost their livelihoods, due to a loss of industry, disasters or any other action or event beyond their control.
“The last 100 miles I give to the people of the World who have been affected by similar disasters, – the people of the Congo, the natives of Ecuador, 911 First responders, Mountain Top Removal , Love Canal, Chernobyl, ect. The reason that I want to include the world is that this is a global crisis. I want to in effect unite these disasters as the same across the US and globe to fight for each other as a human rights issue. I feel like together we will be strong in our efforts to make clean air and water the focus of a human effort to help provide stewardship in order to recover and sustain a healthy Earth. This is an important step in bringing in the world to the Gulf fight.”
Donations are needed. Please click HERE to learn the route, so as to join them, AND to make a contribution.
About Cherri Foytlin: Cherri Foytlin was introduced to the world in 2010 when CNN featured her as she publicly called out to President Obama, asking him to come to the Gulf and see the oil spill damage firsthand. Drawing inspiration from leaders of past social change, Foytlin is seen by many as the premier voice of the people of the Gulf Coast.
Foytlin grew up in Choctaw, Oklahoma. She moved to Rayne, Louisiana, with her husband Forest and their six children in 2005. Forest grew up in south Louisiana and brought his family to the region after he found work offshore in the oil industry. Upon her arrival, Cherri found work as a columnist with a small local newspaper, and the family bought a new house. Three days after closing on their new home, President Obama declared a moratorium on deepwater drilling, leaving Cherri’s husband unemployed.
Cherri faces increasing pressure as the sole breadwinner for her family. With increasing costs, a morgage, and other financial obligations looming, Foytlin worries that she will not be able to hold on much longer. Foytlin has spoken at many charitable events, including a recent oil spill rally at the national mall in Washington D.C. this past August. Although she began as an advocate for the Gulf Coast people, she has expanded her activism to encompass broader human, civil, and environmental issues.
Foytlin’s work has been featured on national and local news outlets. She is currently working on compiling her many months of documentation into a book that will cover the impact of the oil spill on the local environment, community, and culture. In the spring of 2011, Foytlin will attempt to ignite a new social movement by walking hundreds of miles from New Orleans to Washington DC. Once in D.C., she will invite members of the government to the Gulf for the one year anniversary of the oil spill.