Celebrating the Legacy of the Battle of Seattle

by Anna Lappé

Twenty years ago, I was just one of the tens of thousands of people who descended onto the streets of Seattle in the first major global political action challenging the trade regime calcified in the World Trade Organization. Those days in the streets and in the teach-ins organized by the International Forum on Globalization were one of the defining political experiences of my life. The images of those tear gassed streets with farmers and ranchers, environmentalists, and labor leaders marching together had reverberations around the world.

As my friend and colleague John Peck of Family Farm Defenders put it in his reflection piece about this historic event: In the wake of the demonstrations the global peasant movement, La Via Campesina celebrated that the action in those streets helped to globalize the struggle and globalize our hopes. John went on to say that thanks to that organizing, the concept of food sovereignty was “popularized among grassroots activists” and has come to “radically transform” our debates about food and farming.

I shared the story of the demonstrations in Seattle—what it meant for me personally and what it mean to farmers around the world—in my TEDxBerkeley talk on the “Empathy of Food.”

Featured image: 1999 Dang Ngo/ZUMA Press via Common Dreams