Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Poster of the Week

Cesar Chavez Memorial Poster
Juan Fuentes
La Raza Graphics
Silkscreen, 1993
San Francisco, CA

Cesar E. Chavez Day, March 31, is recognized as a state holiday in California, Colorado and Texas, and efforts are ongoing to make it into a national holiday. California was the first state to proclaim the holiday, a result of organizing by Los Angeles volunteers. This marked the first time that a labor leader or Latino has been honored with a public legal holiday.* The holiday is celebrated in California on Cesar E. Chavez’s birthday March 31st. 

When the National Farm Workers Association was co-founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, they accomplished what was thought to be impossible—the organizing of poor and uneducated farm laborers.  Born on March 31, 1927, near Yuma, Arizona, Chavez was no stranger to the struggle of farm labor.  His family lost their small farm during the depression and moved to San Jose, California, where they worked as migrant farmers.  As a child, Chavez also worked in the fields to help out the family.  His father had belonged to farm labor unions, and Chavez himself had belonged to the National Farm Labor Union.  In the 1950s, Chavez became an organizer for the Community Service Organization (CSO), and learned grass root strategies.  In 1958, he became CSO director for California and Arizona.  Chavez became interested in organizing a labor union for farm workers, and tried to convince CSO to develop a farm labor union.  When his ideas were rejected, Chavez resigned from the organization in 1962.  He moved to Delano, where he and other activists including Dolores Huerta, founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which later became the UFW. 
In September 1965, 1500 Filipino grape pickers in Delano, California, members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) went out on strike to protest years of poor pay and conditions. They asked the NFWA to join the strike. One week later NWFA’s 1200-member families voted to join the strike. In response to Cesar’s condition that strikers take a solemn vow to remain nonviolent, the strikers turned to boycotts. This strike changed the face of agriculture in the United States. In 1966, the Filipino American AWOC and the Mexican and Mexican American NFWA merged to form the United Farm Workers.
Until his death in 1993, Chávez remained the head of the UFW.  He continued to live as he did in the 1960s, sleeping four hours, meditating and attending daily mass.  He continued to use fasts as a way of calling attention to the farm workers’ demands.  He was both a charismatic and controversial leader.  His anti-communism and inability to delegate authority weakened the union at the same time that his dedication and vision strengthened it.  Chávez gave people La Causa (The Cause) to fight for the rights and dignity of everyone.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poster of the Week

Fukushima Mon Amour
Yossi Lemel
Offset, ca  2012
Tel Aviv, Israel

This month marks the third anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan.
The nuclear fallout from Fukushima is ongoing—in addition to leaking radiation into the air, 1000s of tons of highly radioactive water continue to leak into the ground and into the Pacific Ocean.   The worst leak in the last 6 months took place just last month, in February 2014, when about 100 tons of radioactive water leaked.  This affects us all –the air we breathe, the fish we eat, and things we don’t even consider.  Just days ago, snow falling in Missouri was found to contain double the normal radiation amount.  The FDA stopped testing fish in the Pacific Ocean for radiation not long after the disaster started, but independent research is showing that every Bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has been contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima.  Scientists suspect that all fish in the Pacific Ocean are affected.
Yossi Lemel’s poster connects the 2011 nuclear disaster with the 1945 dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. His title is from the 1959 French film "Hiroshima Mon Amour" which, among many other things, is about war, memory, and forgetfulness.  We must not forget.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Poster of the Week

International Women’s Day
New American Movement (NAM)
Salsedo Press
Offset, circa 1977
Chicago, IL


On March 8, l857, women from the garment and textile industry in New York demonstrated to protest low wages, the 12‑hour workday,  and increasing workloads.  They asked for improved working  conditions and equal pay for all working women. Their march was  dispersed by the police. Some of the women were arrested and  some were injured. Three years later, in March of 1860, these women formed their own  union and again called for these demands to be met.  On March 8, 1908, thousands of women from the needles trade  industry demonstrated for the same demands. They also asked for laws against child labor and laws for the right of women to vote.  They declared March 8 to be Women's Day.

In 1910, Clara Zetkin, a German labor leader, proposed that March 8  be proclaimed International Women's Day in memory of those women who had fought for better lives.  For almost 80 years, March 8  has been celebrated in many countries, but has only been commemorated widely in the United States since 1970 with the development of the Women's Liberation Movement.

CSPG’s Poster of the Week was produced by the New American Movement (NAM), a socialist-feminist organization established in 1971.  NAM was part of the New Left that formed during the Viet Nam War.  In 1982, NAM merged with Michael Harrington’s Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) to establish Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).