Nina Serrano Interviews Rafael Jesús González
Poet Laureate of Berkeley, California creates a symbol for the Grand Vision to Unite Us All: A whole earth (entire, healthy, integral) capable of supporting all life.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Rafael Jesús González in my home studio for a La Raza Chronicles/KPFA-fm radio broadcast about the popular Universal Earth Justice Peace flag and button he designed. I’ve seen both the button and flag at many demonstrations and rallies calling for unity and justice. Watch the video to learn how a poet creates visual symbols and enjoy two octogenarians recounting our history. Below is his story.
Stories Behind Symbols
by Rafael Jesús González
In 1982 I took a leave of absence from my teaching at Laney College to work with the Livermore Action Group to organize the International Day of Nuclear Disarmament. One of the issues we had to work out was setting the date for the international actions that were to take place. As you might imagine, it was not easy to find agreement, but Starhawk (of her many books, I recommend her futuristic novel The Fifth Sacred Thing which is in the process of being made into movie) whom I met at the time, and I were adamant that the day had to be a universal world-wide holy day free of national, political, religious, partisan overtones. It had to be a holy day set by the Earth itself and that meant either one of the equinoxes or one of the solstices. After long discussions (with the consensus process you may imagine how long it took) the date was set for the Summer Solstice (June 21) 1983.
A logo for the day of action was needed, one whose meaning embraced all the issues involved, and whose meaning was immediately clear and went beyond language, nationality, political bias, etc. My design was the one accepted by the organizers: the image of the Earth, superimposed upon the Sun and spanned by the wings of Peace. It was this logo (with many variations of design) that went around the world for the 1st International Day of Nuclear Disarmament.
The day was a huge success as far as the number of actions and people involved went (At Livermore National Nuclear Laboratory blockade alone one-thousand of us, I among them, were arrested for civil disobedience. At Santa Rita prison a huge circus tent had to be set up for the arrested men; the women were crowded into a wing of the prison.)
Well, that was the first and last International Day of Nuclear Disarmament. We came out of jail and from organizing demonstrations exhausted, the Livermore Action Group dwindled away, no one else took the gigantic task of organizing a second day, and the logo of the action was forgotten.
Then the summer of 2011, at the inception of the Occupy Movement, some veterans of the Livermore Action Group got together to organize demonstrations throughout the financial district of San Francisco that solstice and the logo was resurrected.
For these actions, I superimposed the logo upon the international rainbow flag for peace that was flown throughout Europe and Latin America (as well as in the U.S.) just before and during the last war on Iraq.
A group of young activists (whom I have been mentoring since about 2010) wanted to have the flags made. The expense, however, is beyond what we could afford and we settled for having the button, healer’s badge we call it.
To order the button, contact Just Buttons via email (email@example.com) or phone (800-564-2924). Ask for the Universal Earth Justice Peace button by name, or use order number 100009567. You can order 1″ or 2.25″ sizes.