Last modified: 2016-02-27 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | mexican-american | heritage | united farm workers | cesar chavez |
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image by Andy Behrens, 6 November 2012
Since many of the earlier United Farm Workers Union flags were hand-made, there's considerable variation among them. But the "standard" representation seems to be a larger eagle, whose wings have 5 "steps" like the one above.
In 1962 César Chavez asked his cousin, Manuel, to design a flag. César wanted an Aztec eagle on the flag, but Manuel could not make an eagle that he liked. After several attempts, Manuel sketched one on a piece of brown wrapping paper. He then squared off the wing edges so that the eagle would be easier for union members to draw on their handmade red flags. The symbol of the eagle would give courage to the farm workers. César made reference to the flag by stating, "A symbol is an important thing, that is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives pride...When people see it they know it means dignity." The flag was unveiled at the first mass meeting of the newly formed union.
The symbolism of the flag:
The black eagle signifies the dark situation of the farm worker. The Aztec eagle is an historic symbol for the people of Mexico. The UFW incorporated the Aztec eagle into its design in order to show the connection the union had to migrant workers of Mexican-American descent, though not all UFW workers were Mexican-American. The white circle signified hope and aspirations. The red background stood for the hard work and sacrifice that the union members would have to give.
The UFW also adopted an official motto, "Viva la Causa" (Long Live Our Cause).
Andy Behrens, 5 November 2012
According to the obituary of Richard Chavez, brother of Cesar Chavez, Richard was the designer of the United Farm Workers' flag. Several online copies of Richard Chavez's obit say "Chavez also designed the black Aztec eagle, the
union's flag...". See for example www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/27/2334111/farmworker-union-leader-richard.html
Ned Smith, 30 July 2011
A number of images show black eagle on a plain red flag (no white disc). Whether this is an officially recognized variant or not, it is a fact which should be noted.
Tomislav Todorovic, 5 November 2012
In 1962, Cesar Cesar and Dolores Huerta founded the United Farm Workers. Their goal was to organize the Mexican agricultural workers and improve their working conditions, mostly in California. For two decades they attempted to
raise public awareness to the struggles of the farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions. They eventually succeeded, using nonviolent tactics, boycotts, pickets, strikes, and hunger strikes.
Richard Chavez designed the UFW black eagle and his brother Cesar chose the black and red colors (white for their hope, black for their struggle, and red for their sacrifice) for their flags design. The story told is that Richard first sketched a "Aztec, or Mexican" black eagle on a piece of brown wrapping paper, then squared off the wing edges so that the eagle would be easier for union members to draw on their handmade red flags and banners.
The black eagle (some have called it a thunderbird) became a powerful symbol and the farm workers and their supporters proudly carried the black eagle flags and banners, sometimes with the words "huelga" (strike), or "viva la causa" (Long live our cause) or simply "UFW AFL-CIO" (for the United Farm Workers, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) added to the basic design within the circle of hope. The similarity of the design to far-left extremist flags was not lost to their detractors.
Pete Loeser, 6 November 2012, using information contained on the UFW websites (www.ufw.org/ and www.ufwfoundation.org/)
image by Pete Loeser, 7 November 2012