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A speaker with a powerful
message about ending poverty in America

Email info@speakersforanewamerica.com or call 800-691-68888 about bringing Cheri Honkala to your city.

"We the poor of the world have the will to end poverty."
-- Cheri Honkala, Director, Kensington Welfare Rights Union

Cheri Honkala is the National Coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. She speaks worldwide about the struggle against poverty in the U.S., and the denial of basic economic human rights. She says, “And who better to change this than those that live within my country?"

Watch video of police Brutality in New Orleans after a peaceful rally at St. Bernard Housing Development on Saturday, December 15, 2007. Two Housing Activists, JR and Cheri Honkala, and an independent filmmaker, were arrested without provocation. Footage from Mavis Yorks

Watch "Homeless Hero": The Story of One of the 12 Most Endangered Activists in America. "Homeless Hero" tells the story of Cheri Honkala's rise from homelessness to the leadership of a growing movement in America.

The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is preparing to lead a massive poor people's march in Minneapolis City during the Republican Convention

Cheri's speech to the United Nations about ending poverty in America

Poor families set up "Bushville," a national Tent City, to fight for their economic human rights in the year 2000

Accomplishments of Cheri Honkala:

  • National Coordinator, Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign
  • Named among the region's 100 most powerful men and women by The Philadelphia
  • Named "Woman of the Year" by the Philadelphia Weekly
  • Featured in the award-winning documentary, "Poverty Outlaw"
  • Described in the book, "Myth of the Welfare Queen," by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Zuchino
  • A leader of a march of over 10,000 people during the Republican National Convention, 2000
  • Spoke to 148 governments at the United Nations about ending poverty in America
  • A leader of the 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 to protest welfare reform and poverty as a violation of economic human rights.
  • The only welfare recipient allowed to testify to the U.S. Congress on welfare cuts.
  • Served on the boards of many national organizations including the Urban-Rural Mission, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Pennsylvanians for Choice, the Alliance of Native Americans, and the Annie Smart Leadership Development.
  • 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.) She was sanctioned from cash assistance.
  • Single mom, formerly homeless, recipient of numerous awards for her leadership in the struggle to end poverty. Mother and son (the actor, Mark Webber,) lived on the streets homeless, using their experience to organize the poor. Playwright of "Taking it Back," a one-person play about her life pregnant and homeless.

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 U.S. caused by welfare reform. She and other members and supporters kicked off a year long Economic Human Rights Campaign in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Activities during this campaign for freedom from unemployment, hunger and homelessness, centered on national documentation of economic human rights abuses committed within the U.S. as a result of welfare reform. The campaign had a kick off with the March of the Americas from Washington D.C. to the United Nations. Participants included people from Canada and Latin America.