A 3,500 Mile Trek for Liberty, Meet Cedric Keith

by | Mar 2, 2022 |

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Are you angry that woke bureaucrats and politicians are suppressing our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of free speech? Are you mad about the growing authoritarianism in our public schools that have narrowed the choices of parents and forced children into classes that teach politically-correct but ludicrous and harmful ideologies? Or how about how the feds have turned white against black, instigating racial conflict for their own political gain? Or used the scientifically-unfounded global warming scare to weigh us down with reams of regulations and ineffective energy sources that threaten to leave us hungry and freezing in the dark? And who can forget how the feds whipped up irrational fear about the Wuhan virus as pretext to assume authorities nowhere granted to any level of American government at any time.

The list of legitimate grievances against the U.S. federal government is vast, and many of us complain bitterly about these things. But few Americans have the courage, knowledge, or time to actually translate our beef with the powers that be into direct action to try to get these problems resolved. Not so with Cedric Keith, a freedom-loving true patriot who decided that he wanted to draw attention to what he worried was a loss of liberty and freedom in our nation. Desiring to draw attention to this sorry state of affairs, Cedric set out to walk across America, telling his concerns to everyone and anyone who might ask what he was doing on the road with a large backpack and an American Flag. 

Cedric began his journey in Washington state on April 1, 2021, and arrived in Washington D.C. on December 19, having walked a grand total of 3,500 miles. It was a grueling trip in which he only took a 3-week break to care for a sick friend in West Virginia.

Surprisingly, in his eight-month journey, Cedric only wore out two pairs of shoes, but he certainly banged up his body a bit, carrying a 70-pound backpack of food and gear. But he achieved his goal while educating a lot of people, not as many as he would have liked, but as they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. However, in Cedric’s case, he followed that first step with approximately 10 million more, about 2/3 of a yard per step, to get to 3,500 miles. 

The over-arching goal of his Long March of Liberty was to encourage people to consider the seriousness of radical government expansion. Cedric carried a list of grievances against the federal government, which he called the “Intolerable List,” as he walked from coast to coast, almost entirely along highways (in order to be seen and queried spreading the word for liberty) and solicited signatures for the list. 

Starting from his home in the tiny borough of Export, Pennsylvania, he drove to Washington state, where he sold his car. He began his trip with a great deal of food in his backpack, mostly dehydrated things such as jerky, noodle mixes, and oatmeal for breakfast. Food re-supply would simply happen at grocery stores and gas stations, but Cedric also received occasional boxes containing some of his most nutrient-rich foods from home via post offices along the way. Just a little was eaten out of the wild; a few mushrooms (Cedric is an enthusiastic collector of wild edible mushrooms) and wild greens such as asparagus.

His daily mileage varied greatly, averaging about 20 miles per day. He normally took off one day a week to rest. At the end of a day’s walk, he would begin to look for a place not posted against trespassing that offered a little cover and hopefully water. He then set up a tent, obtained water, and cooked supper on a small wood-burning stove he carried. His camouflage-colored tent kept him dry and insect free for all 3,500 miles.

Cedric navigated with topographic maps that he had periodically sent to him. These maps were important to him as they allowed him to see likely water sources, changing terrain, and much more than simple road maps. 

His American flag flew on a pole above his head. At the Mississippi River, he added a flag reading “Liberty First” to eliminate confusion as to what this was all about. Cedric frequently wrote blog posts on the journey and on liberty for his site, https://www.marchofliberty.com/blog. 

ROUTE 

Although Cedric followed the straightest line possible, there were, however, significant detours that added to the distance, such as a highway closure across the Cascades in early spring and a lack of water along the planned route in Montana. While his was generally a west-east trek (see map at the start of this article), the drop from north to south was also tremendous. Through mountainous territory, there were few straight lines to follow, and the route swung widely latitudinally. Straight lines were easier to maintain across the Midwest.  

Cedric Keith

PHYSICAL CONDITIONING

Cedric spent a month training, doing short mountain hikes and exercise, knowing his muscles would largely become conditioned as he walked the walk. He did not find road walking to be as easy as he had expected. In particular, asphalt surfaces combined with a heavy pack were devastating for his feet. By the time he had walked four weeks, he had sustained an injury to his left heel that would plague him for the rest of the trip. His shoulders struggled quite obviously from the weight of his backpack.

THE MOST DANGEROUS PARTS

The most significant threats to Cedric’s life and safety came daily from passing cars on narrow roads. Along the Columbia River, he even had to navigate a highway tunnel with no road shoulder. In remote parts of Northeast Washington, he encountered mountain lions and wolves. Following forest service roads through a remote part of the Montana Rockies was also dangerous as it is home to black bears, grizzlies, wolves, and mountain lions. While he tripped over rattlesnakes three times, only once was he impeded by dehydration—at the Continental divide on an Indian Reservation—and a waterborne illness slowed him as well at one point.

THE HARDEST PARTS

The hardest stuff on such a long adventure was psychological. The times when the trip was in the most danger of ending prematurely were the few times Cedric re-started after long breaks. 

Another challenging period was in Montana during innumerable scorching days when he had to adapt by hiking at night, a practice that continued into Minnesota. At other times, the long hot days wore on him as the days passed with restless nights trying to sleep in extreme heat, once in 95-degree heat under a bridge in Minnesota. Passing through these hardships and then running into difficulties created by COVID mandates was particularly demoralizing as the months passed and politicians continued to ramp up enforcement.

CEDRIC’S GOALS

He had several goals as follows:

A) The consequences of radical government expansion and arbitrary rule were the primary theme of Cedric’s media efforts. This could be evaluated based on the number of visitors to his marchofliberty.com site. Less easily measured were the sentiments of people he talked to across the nation, who, generally speaking, espoused traditional American conservative values along with libertarian tendencies. Many of them despised leading political figures on the left and wanted to support the troops, often thinking he was raising money for them. Cedric found that most people just want things to go back to normal and forget about Washington to focus on their jobs, families, farms, and churches.

He found that most Americans do not initially recognize the battle to preserve liberty or to defend the rule of law against incipient arbitrary governance. So, Cedric used every opportunity to engage one-on-one with people he met and make this case. We estimate he met with about 100,000 citizens in his eight-month journey. 

B) The Intolerable List has so far been unsuccessful. In the end, he arrived at Washington D.C. with only 200 signatures, perhaps because of the document’s length. We encourage readers to read and, if they agree, sign Cedric’s petition. It is titled, “A Censure of America’s Federal Government.” It is described as “A Brief List of Injuries and Usurpations inflicted by Our Federal Government Upon the People of the United States.”

See https://www.petitions.net/a_censure_of_americas_federal_government. 

C) Cedric completed the walk as planned, although he thought it would be a month quicker to cross the nation.

Cedric Keith’s foremost impression of the trip has been to see Americans as kind and generous but unprepared to deal with the variety of threats we now face. To learn more about these threats and Cedric’s amazing journal, please listen at 11 am and 8 pm ET this Saturday and Sunday on The Other Side of the Story, when we will be interviewing this amazing warrior for freedom.

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Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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