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United Farm Workers flag (U.S.)

Last modified: 2019-08-24 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | mexican-american | heritage | united farm workers | cesar chavez | dreamer protest |
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[Mexican American Red flag with Eagle] image by Andy Behrens, 6 November 2012



See also:


Red flag with Eagle

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.
From www.colapublib.org/chavez/about.html: "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."
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/)

Sí, se puede (Spanish for "Yes, it is possible" or, roughly, "Yes, one can", is the motto of the United Farm Workers. In 1972, during Cesar Chavez's 25-day fast in Phoenix, Arizona, UFW's co-founder, Dolores Huerta, came up with the slogan. The phrase has been widely adopted by other labor unions and civil rights organizations and drew widespread political and media attention as a rallying cry during the U.S. immigration reform protests.
The more literal translation that the United Farm Workers uses is "Yes, it can be done!" The first known use of "Yes we can" in the United States occurred in the spring of 1974 when it was used by Dave Cash of the Philadelphia Phillies (Major League Baseball) as a rallying cry for the team. LeRoy Chatfield; et al. (UFW volunteers) (source: "UFW GLOSSARY Farmworker Movement Terminology". Farmworker Movement Documentation Project. Si Se Puede Press. (http://www.farmworkermovement.org/essays/glossary.shtml).
It has also been used in a sports context in several Latin American countries as well. Also, "Sí, se puede" has become a rallying cry at many pro-immigration events across the United States in past few days...just what does se puede mean? Out of context, I'd probably translate it loosely as "it can be done." But context matters, and as part of a group chant the translation of "yes, we can" is entirely appropriate. Se puede is a phrase of empowerment (puede is a close cousin of el poder, a noun meaning "power"), and "we can" conveys that thought well. Gerald Erichsen (April 11, 2006) (source: "Does 'Sí, se puede' mean 'Yes, we can'?" (http://spanish.about.com/b/2006/04/11/does-s-se-puede-mean-yes-we-can.htm) by Gerald's Spanish Language Blog).
Sources: http://ufw.org/research/history/history-si-se-puede/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%AD_se_puede
The first variant features a plain red horizontal flag with the Aztec Eagle, the name of the organization on top in red capital letters and below its slogan, as seen here, during a protest for immigration reforms: https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/bakersfield.com (source: http://www.bakersfield.com/news).
The second variant is very similar to the strike flag in the sense that uses the red background and the white disc featuring the black Aztec Eagle, and features the inscription above the name of the organization in black capitals and below AFL–CIO (acronym for American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, meaning it is a member of such trade union) as seen here:
http://coachellaunincorporated.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Gonzalez-1-med.jpg (source: http://coachellaunincorporated.org/2012/06/25/joaquin-magon-four-day-strike/)
Esteban Rivera, 19 February 2018


Huelga (Strike) flag

[Mexican American Red flag with Eagle] image by Pete Loeser, 7 November 2012

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.
Pete Loeser, 7 November 2012