Director And Co-Founder Of The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
Cheri Honkala is a nationally and internationally recognized anti-poverty and human rights advocate. For the past 25 years she has dedicated her life to creating a movement led by the poor, not their advocates. Honkala has organized numerous protests, holding marches, demonstrations and setting up tent cities, in the course of which activities she has been arrested for civil disobedience violations more than 200 times.
In her early years, while still living in Minnesota, she formed the Twin Cities anti-poverty groups "Women, Work and Welfare" and "Up and Out of Poverty Now.” Currently based in Philadelphia, she has devoted most of her attention to the rise in home evictions among lower income families. She is the co-founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU), which later turned into the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC). PPEHRC’s organizational mission states:
"The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is committed to uniting the poor across color lines as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty. We work to accomplish this through advancing economic human rights as named in the universal declaration of human rights — such as the rights to food, housing, health, education, communication and a living wage job."
Her interests have also led her into politics. In 2011, Honkala was the Green Party candidate for Sheriff of Philadelphia, running on the promise of refusing to evict families from their homes. She is possibly best known for being the Green Party’s nominee for Vice President in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. More recently, in 2017, Honkala ran as the Green Party candidate for state representative of PA district 197.
Honkala has received recognition in numerous publications for her role in bringing attention to issues such as homelessness and home foreclosures, and has been called "the protester's protester.” She was included in Philadelphia Magazine’s list of 100 Most Powerful Philadelphians and was named Philadelphia Weekly’s “Woman of the Year” in 1997. In 2001, Ms. Magazine also named Honkala “Woman of the Year.” She as since been the recipient of numerous awards including the Bread and Roses Human Rights Award, Public Citizen of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Social Workers, and the prestigious Letelier-Moffitt award from the Washington Institute for Policy Studies. In April 2005, Mother Jones magazine named her Hellraiser of the Month. Front Line Defenders has named Cheri one of the 12 most endangered activists in America. She was also featured prominently in the 1997 book Myth of the Welfare Queen by Pultzer-Prize-winning journalist David Zucchino.
WAGING WAR ON POVERTY IS ABOUT CLA SS IDENTITY ( 2014)
In this exclusive interview, Dennis Trainor, Jr. and Cheri Honkala discuss the Earth Day to May Day Climate Convergence, the U.S. Social Forum, and what motivates a life of social justice organizing.
GREEN VICE PRESIDENT: CHERI HONKALA'S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Cheri Honkala, former Green Party candidate for Sheriff of Philadelphia PA, talks about her experience from being homeless to becoming an anti poverty activist and into the electoral arena as a Green. Honkala ran with Presidential candidate Jill Stein.
CHERI HONKALA: NO AMERICAN SHOULD BE POOR (2011)
It's easy to subscribe to the belief that America doesn't have enough resources for everyone to enjoy a high standard of living. But Cheri Honkala, one of the leading figures in the movement against poverty, believes this is a false message. America is an extraordinarily wealthy country, and each resident can live well—but according to Honkala, this will take a shift in people's attitudes towards wealth distribution and self- sacrifice.
CHERI HONKALA: HOMELESS HERO (2010)
A political movement for the poor and homeless is growing in the US and it is led by Cheri Honkala who founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. People of Power followed Cheri Honkala as she lead a campout for the homeless.
AUGUST IN THE EMPIRE STATE - PART 1 ( 2004)
During the 2004 Republican National Convention, three political players are followed: Cheri Honkala, Homeless Rights Activist; Paul Rodriguez, Republican candidate for Congress; and Michelle Goldberg, an independent journalist.
HONKALA AND THE KENSINGTON WELFARE RIGHTS UNION
A clip from The Philadelphia Story documentary in the mid-90's showing the work of Cheri Honkala and the Kensington Welfare Rights Organization, now known as the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.
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