On the seventh day, the hunger strikers needed rest and spiritual support. Their bodies are weak and it is becoming increasingly difficult to answer questions from press or be active for very long during the day. They are continuing regardless; they feel in their hearts that they have no other choice.

So many came to offer support and do what they could: more ice, a few hugs; many kind words. But joining here together meant everything to them and to us as supporters.

José is an extremely active member of the DREAM Team, making phone calls and staying nights to stand watch while the strikers sleep. He also calls Senator Hagan’s office every day in hopes of scheduling a meeting. During the vigil, José assisted with translation.

Tio Rocanrolero played before and during the event. Prior to sundown, the event was more social and built fellowship among our community of supporters.

Friends and family came, which was rejuvenating; having children around the camp especially brought a new life to a place steeped in such seriousness. When she sees these faces, Kay Hagan should ask what she wants her legacy in the Senate to be. Her action on the DREAM Act will in part determine how long it lasts.

The strikers shared their thanks, their thoughts, their hopes and what they have learned so far on their journey. The support so far has moved her. The portable toilet donated by supporters moved her; it has made life here so much easier, with the nearest public restroom being several blocks away.

Shweta, a friend of the DREAM Team, brought a poem by Octavio Paz to read. After posting the poem to the DREAM Team on Facebook, the strikers insisted that Shweta come and read it. Together, her and Viridiana read the poem aloud, alternating lines. The audience was visibly moved.

The Rev. Gary Phillips led the first prayer. Evoking the spirit and power of the natural world, he hoped that we would find in its strength the drive to continue on toward overcoming the obstacles that we must.

The candle ceremony began in earnest. We were led in prayer again by a woman from Mexico who shared her hardship, but also her love. Loida, Rosario and Viridiana then took candles from the center table and began lighting those of the attendees. We ended the night singing “We Shall Overcome” by Pete Seeger.

The night ended shortly after; the strikers have to sleep while the air is cool. After saying their goodbyes, the strikers took a few minutes to collect themselves, responded to any lingering e-mails, and said goodnight.

Photos, like countless others, courtesy of Justin Valas.

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