It's been several decades since we've seen large-scale protests in the US. Looking into the not-so-distant past where protests were more frequent and purposeful, we're inspired by the creativity and artistry of the signs and banners created to make a statement.
Racial Equality. Civil Rights. The Vietnam War. The Peace Movement. Women's Rights. Gender Equality. Social Unrest. The Environment. Financial Equality. All started at the grassroots and quickly became intertwined with musicians and artists, new forms of media, advocates and adversaries who fueled the passion, and gave voices to the struggles.
Today, much of the same symbology continues to represent both old and new sources of frustration, some evolving to represent a greater struggle or group of people. In the 1960's and 1970's artists and designers crafted iconic messages that impacted the narrative, engaged a conversation and inspired additional actions. The evolution of this continues with street art and design taking a prominent place in the physical and online worlds - the media and the message intertwined together.
The peace symbol was created in England to protest nuclear armament and nuclear war and quickly spread to the US as a symbol against the war in Vietnam. In it's purest form, it's a graphic representation of the semaphore system which uses a signalman with flags to convey information from long distances. The upside down 'V' shape is semaphore for the letter 'N' standing for 'Nuclear', and the upward stroke is semaphore for the letter 'D' standing for 'Disarmament'. Stacked on top of one another and wrapped in a circle, this universal message came to symbolize peace for a generations protesting war, nuclear weapons and armaments.
Power to the People
During the same era, the raised fist was born from the 'Black Power' movement, drawing attention to racial tensions, desegregation and the struggle for equal rights in the United States. As a powerful symbol of strength & unity it has come to represent the solidarity of people from all backgrounds coming together against oppression, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism and segregation. No less important today than it was 60 years ago, it sends a compelling and enduring message of defiance through it's visual symbolism.
When women join together in a common cause, the power is undeniable. And women's liberation was just one of the many causes for which females have been fighting for generations, and sadly still today. Decades of struggling for equality in the workplace, in government, for compensation for equal work, for healthcare rights and education. In a political climate with politicians bragging about abusing women and the cruelty of social media, there is no better time for another creative force to emerge through the Women's March on Washington, which is spreading into a singular global women's movement.