Naquasia LeGrand, 22

Where shall I begin? I could start with my dream to be a center on a WNBA basketball team –- I was good while I was in school, tall too. Or I could talk about bouncing around from Virginia to the Carolinas to New York. Somehow none of it explains directly how I have come to be a leader in the Fast Food workers campaign.

I did like basketball and athletics. And I was good at it.

I started in Brooklyn, and live in Brooklyn now, but my mom left to return to where most of her family was when I was about seven, and when I was eight, she gave me a choice of where I wanted to live. So I have been living with my grandmother in Brooklyn. But there were times of going to school in Virginia or Carolina in between, and my two younger brothers were not given a choice and they stayed down South.

My grandfather lives in North Carolina and my mom is with him. I have an uncle in Brooklyn who is about seven years older than me. He is looking for work, he can fix anything.

My other grandfather just passed, and we are all going there in a van for the funeral.

Actually I was going to visit the family in North Carolina a few weeks ago when I heard about the march (upwards of 80,000 people flocked to the state capitol in Raleigh for the Moral March on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014).  There were protests about a lot of different things, but I did find the fast food workers there, and they treated me like a celebrity. They had all watched the television clips of me on the Stephen Colbert show talking about fast food workers, and they thought I was a hero. I’m not a hero, but it was a nice feeling to be welcomed.

I told them what I have told everyone — that we fast food workers need to be respected, we need fair wages, we need a steady schedule. People made a big deal about the Colbert show, but it was the same with him, even though he was trying to have fun with it. We need to stick together, we need to tell these corporations that they have the money to pay us just a little better. I’m just trying to make ends meet, get my Metro ticket, phone, help pay for my grandmother’s rent, help my uncle. . . .

I have bills, everyone does. The city can be expensive. Just getting here today is an extra couple of subway trips, each only $2.50. But if you are earning $8 an hour at KFC and your hours are being kept to 15 hours or less, this becomes hard… My manager is leaving again, the third since I started working there a couple of years ago. You know, the managers don’t have it much better than then the workers. Yes they get a couple of dollars more an hour, but they are there at least 60, 70,  80 hours a week, no health insurance, no special payments – and they get a meal sometime during their shift.

As workers, we have to pay half for our meals. It makes no sense. The managers are paid more and get a meal? Not fair. We also have to buy shirts, pants, hats all required as a uniform.

I don’t want people to have to pay more for their burgers or chicken, but the corporations should not make customers pay more. They should give over some of the millions of dollars that they charge to help the workers.

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