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TALLAHASSEE

The Walk reached Tallahassee on Saturday, April 13th, 1996. Some 600 people walked the last five miles through downtown to the steps of the Old Capitol Building, where they were joined by 300 others for a rally of songs and speeches.

On Monday, April 15th, the Walkers demonstrated in the lobby of the Capitol, holding their signs by the doors and elevators and talking to whoever would stop. A group circled the Great Seal of the state of Florida and sang Walk songs, attracting the attention of not only those in the lobby, but many on the upper floors who looked over the balustrades to see what was going on.

A contingent of Walkers crowded the large conference room of the Lieutenant Governor to bear witness to what they had seen. Some met with their elected representatives. The Walkers lobbied against a proposal by Florida Power and Light requesting permission to burn Orimulsion, a new cheap fuel, because of the toxicity of its products of combustion. Later that week the Governor’s advisors recommended against FP&L’s proposal and it was rejected.

The Walk raised the consciousness of many people. There were the townspeople and workers along the way, city and county officials, state senators and representatives, even the governor. Twelve or more newspapers covered the walk and the Miami Herald (the state’s largest newspaper) twice printed full page stories. But the most important people were the children: those who walked on weekends, made banners, attended rallies, and talked with the Walkers as they passed by. As Josh, a 6-year-old from Miami, said, “I hope I don’t ever have to tell my son that the Everglades used to be a place where you could see birds and ‘gators and a lot of other wildlife.”

Tallahassee was the end of the route of the Walk, but it was not the conclusion. It was a part of a beginning that will continue, with determination and deliberation, one foot after the other, for many years.