You’ve seen it on passing cars, in the hands of thousands of protestors, in the windows of homes around Wisconsin and even on Glenn Beck, but do you know the story behind the iconic Blue Fist?
The Blue Fist has become an image of solidarity and strength not only for the Wisconsin union movement but for the global struggle for social justice and democracy.
Carrie Worthen is the artist who designed the Blue Fist. Worthen was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin. She studied Fine Arts at the University of Milwaukee and currently works in design in Los Angeles. You can find her work at thirdthing.com.
“I was "The Clarifier," explained Worthen. “I prettied-up and simplified the idea. It was spur of the moment and out of necessity, and grew from there. To me it needed to be bold and clear, loud and simple.”
Norm Carley, also a UW-Milwaukee graduate from Steven’s Point, was part of the team that brought the Blue Fist to life.
“We have to credit Scott Walker. He helped the Blue Fist come alive,” explained Carley.
“The fist has been a symbol of the struggle for years and years. Putting Door County on the closed hand, made the image into the Wisconsin Blue Fist. We needed a symbol to organize and rally around. The Blue Fist is a potent image, tied to both the movement and to the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. This was a group effort, done out of necessity with little time. It gelled together and became the Blue Fist. This image has rekindled the use of the fist as a protest symbol of America and now you are seeing a reawakening of the fist as a protest symbol.”
“The Blue Fist is just the most recent in a long line of solidarity fists,” continued Worthen. “The raised fist is a historic protest gesture that has appeared in worker, civil rights and solidarity graphics since at least mid-century. Right-wing groups tried for years to discredit it but the Wisconsin Blue Fist shattered those notions and now you see the fist everywhere, just look to the Occupy Movement.”
Once the image was designed for the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO posters and buttons were printed and handed out to protestors both inside and outside the Rotunda. Social media was used to help spread the image as Face Book and Twitter were used as tools to get the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Blue Fist image to supporters not physically in the Madison area.
“People gravitate towards the Blue Fist,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Grandmothers, fathers, daughters, union workers, non-union workers – people are stopping into our office on a regular basis to pick up Blue Fist buttons, posters and bumper stickers to proudly display in their homes and neighborhoods.”
The Blue Fist is in the shape of Wisconsin. It is a bright blue fist against a sea of red. It is a raised fist, not a clenched or angry fist. Below the image reads “Stand with Wisconsin.”
"The slogan that we used, 'Stand with Wisconsin' it is this sort of call to the nation to stand up like Wisconsin workers and the Wisconsin people,” explained Worthen. “I think it's great that everybody is with this movement. You see Blue Fists everywhere. The Blue Fist is our united front, it's a call-to-action, a wake-up call to the nation to stand and fight like the heroes in Wisconsin!”
Visit http://www.standwisconsin.org/ for Blue Fist posters, t-shirts, bumper stickers, sweatshirts and more!
- Blue Fist on the cover of the National Review, a right-wing publication.