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Cheri Honkala Acceptance speech for Vice President at Green Party Convention 2012

Cheri Honkala was born into poverty in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up watching her mother suffer from domestic violence that she quietly endured for fear of losing her kids. At the age of 17 her 19 year old brother Mark, who suffered from mental health issues committed suicide. He was uninsured and could not afford to get the help he needed. At the time of Mark’s suicide Cheri was a teenage mother living out of her car and going to high school. Despite her difficult upbringing she graduated high school.

Cheri and her son Mark (named after her brother) lived in and out of places eventually becoming homeless after the car they had been living in at the time was demolished by a drunk driver. Mark was 9 years old and Cheri could not find a shelter that would allow them to remain together that winter so in order to keep from freezing Cheri decided to move into an abandoned HUD home. She then began working to help other poor families and became a pioneer in the modern housing takeover movement. For the past 25 years Cheri Honkala has been a leading advocate for poor and homeless in America. She co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. She has organized tens of thousands holding marches, demonstrations and setting up tent cities.


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