Struggle for Justice Poster

An offset lithograph poster, 31” x 20”
©2012 John August Swanson


Artist’s Notes

The poster, STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE, was first created in 1972 to help raise money for the United Farm Workers. The original printing was limited to one hundred posters.

The union provided the statement from Cesar Chavez’s 1968 speech to me. My idea for the poster design was to use his words to create an Exploding Newspaper, a black and white montage of photos and lettering. For the lettering, I used a variety of typefaces; many of these were rubber-stamp alphabets I had carved from rubber erasers and other materials. His words became my headlines, accompanied by images showing the struggles of the United Farm Workers in our agricultural fields and the attacks from the giant agribusiness corporations. I also used other photos depicting labor, race, and economic struggles throughout the 20th century in the United States. I interspersed the words and photo images, hoping that this would be an interesting design and would best communicate the message of our continuing struggle to bring justice for all. In 2011, I wanted to reprint the poster. I felt the message still resonated with the strong grass-root movements: the energetic actions of the Occupy Movement, the growing awareness and participation of the Global Warming and Environmental Movement, the struggle of workers to protect their labor unions, and the renewed effort of the Peace Movement. I revised the poster by adding new images and a few other changes. Now, I hope this poster will bring Chávez’s powerful words to students, to union workers, and to anyone who struggles for justice. Also, I hope this work will encourage, strengthen, and empower those who seek a just and peaceful world.

Historical note
In February, after several discouraged strikers begin to contemplate the use of violence against growers, Chavez embarks on his first fast to encourage his members to adhere to nonviolence. Eight thousand farmworkers as well as Senator Robert F. Kennedy attend a mass to break Chavez’s twenty-five-day fast. Kennedy gives Chavez a piece of bread and calls him “one of the heroic figures of our time.”-An Organizer’s Tale, Ilan Stavans, 2008, Penguin Classics Cesar Chavez on non-violence, justice, sacrifice, and suffering – 1968 I undertook this Fast because my heart was filled with grief and pain for the sufferings of farm workers. The Fast was first for me and then for all of us in this Union. It was a fast for non-violence and a call to sacrifice. Our struggle is not easy. Those who oppose our cause are rich and powerful and they have many allies in high places. We are poor. Our allies are few. But we have something the rich do not own. We have our own bodies and spirits and the justice of our cause as our weapons.