California Educator

February / March 2019

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Page 56 of 71

Whether simple, persuasive, incisive or just downright funny, the art of labor struggles serves many purposes: to spread the word of injustice, attract attention, build support for workers, shame the bosses, and rally the union to victory, among others. Many famous works of labor art are striking and iconic, like the "I AM A MAN" sign carried by Memphis sanitation workers during their 1968 strike, and timeless in their simplicity, like the black and red Aztec eagle of United Farm Workers. The art of labor is rooted in our communities, ref lecting the images, values, hopes and dreams of united workers. It is through these creations that they speak to the public about their struggles — about what it means to be a worker in America. Recent community "art builds" held by United Teachers Los Angeles and the Oakland Education Association have embraced the idea that labor struggles are community struggles, inviting local artists, students, parents and neighbors not only to paint, draw and create, but also to talk about how they can work together to create opportunity and improve their collective quality of life. "Our fight is for a better future for public education in Oakland," says OEA President Keith Brown. " We invited local parents and students to join us in creating the artwork and signs that will help educators defend and promote Oakland public schools." To see an extensive collection of impactful and evocative labor art throughout history, visit OEA member Kampala Taiz- Rancifer and her daughter Jade color Micah Bazant's "Public Schools are the Heart of the Community" design. Oakland educators and supporters silk- screened hundreds of picket signs in preparation for a potential strike, Artists Favianna Rodriguez and Claudio Martinez designed this parachute banner to highlight Oakland's teacher retention crisis. The art builds attracted students and their parents, who painted and created while also discussing how to improve their communities. 55 F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 019

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