¡Sí Se Puede! Cesar Chavez Graphics and Art
March 31 is the birthday of Cesar Chavez, and also Cesar Chavez Day, which is a state holiday in California, Texas, and Colorado. Chavez was most active as a labor leader and civil rights activist in the 1960s and 70s, when he co-founded what became the United Farm Workers union. He led the struggle for migrant workers’ rights and better pay and working conditions and became an international figure in the movement for Hispanic civil rights. Based in California, the UFW organized campaigns to boycott lettuce and grapes in support of their union drives, and galvanized support worldwide.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the grape and lettuce boycott impacted college campuses like the later anti-apartheid divestment movement of the 80s. I was lucky enough to be part of a group that brought Cesar Chavez to speak at my small Northwest Ohio college in 1973. He was a remarkable presence—calm, low-keyed, direct—who spoke more like a philosopher or minister than a fiery labor leader. Yet you could see that the man was filled with passion, strength, and love.
We’ve collected some great posters and other graphics featuring Chavez and the UFW boycott campaigns. The famous black eagle UFW logo was initially created by Cesar Chavez and a two family members, and then refined by graphic designer and cartoonist Andrew Zermeno.
For more information on Cesar Chavez, visit the Cesar Chavez Foundation.
(Above): United Farm Workers poster, 1960s. Source: Museum of California
Time, July 4, 1969. Illustration: Manuel Gregorio Acosta.
Carnegie Hall benefit concert poster, 1968. Artwork: Paul Davis. Source: Library of Congress.
Poster via Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective, circa 1978. Source: Library of Congress.
United Farm Workers flag and logo.
United Farm Workers poster, 1973. Art: Xavier Viramontes. Source: Jeliza Patterson.
Cesar Chavez U.S. Postal Service stamp, 2003