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John Lamb Lash, 06/26/2009

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1984 Mural “Darles Armas Y Tambien Ensenarles a Leer” (Give Them Arms and Also Teach Them to Read) by artist, Jane Norling

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Thirty years ago, 34 artists painted 26 murals in the Mission District’s Balmy Alley to express their opposition to U.S. intervention in Central America and to celebrate Mission Culture and Identity.  The above mural was originally painted in 1984 and restored in 2014.

Mexican Muralism was the promotion of mural painting starting in the 1920s, generally with social and political messages as part of efforts to reunify the country under the post Mexican Revolution government.  It was headed by “the big three” painters, Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siquerios.  From the 1920s to about 1970s a large number of murals with nationalistic, social and political messages were created on public buildings, starting a tradition which continues to this day in Mexico and has had impact in other parts of the Americas, including the United States where it served as inspiration for the Chicano art movement.

Source: Wikipedia, 2017

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Mexican Muralism

Murals of Revolutionary Nicaragua

In the 1970s, Jane Norling worked as a founding member with the Haight Ashbury muralists.  Her work includes the 1976 mural “Our History is No Mystery” at John Adams Community College, as well as the 1984 mural “Darles Armas Y Tambien Ensenarles a Leer” (Give Them Arms and Also Teach Them to Read), initially painted as part of the Balmy Alley Mural Project.

This mural, which was moved from its original location but is still visible from the street, depicts the Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign, launched in 1980 by the Sandinista government to reduce illiteracy and is based in part on images in photographs by Margaret Randall. The former is well documented in the film Peoples Wall, produced by the Haight Ashbury Film Collective. Source: Wikipedia 2017


In the 1920s an anti-imperialist movement was founded by Augusto Sandino to break U.S. dominance in Nicaragua. His guerrilla army won a short-lived victory for socialist policies. Following his assassination in 1934, Nicaragua experienced forty years of repression and violence under the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, which had U.S. support. Somoza was overthrown in 1979 by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Daniel Ortega, the revolution’s clan leader, enacted a series of major literacy, healthcare, and land reforms. In the context of the Cold War and anti-communist movements in the U.S., Nicaragua’s attempts to redistribute land and wealth unleashed a hostile response from the U.S., which financed and armed the Contras, a counter-revolutionary force.

The mural movement was a response to the original movement of Sandino and the revolution that was inspired by him nearly 50 years later. The murals both offer a realistic portrayal of what happened in the Sandinista-Contra War and reflect the socialistic and optimistic values of the FSLN government. It was in the 1990s, when the Sandinista government was voted out of office and replaced by a U.S. supported rightist government, that the murals began to be destroyed. Source: Wikipedia 2017

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A motorcyclist drives past a mural of revolutionary heroes in Managua, Nicaragua. Most streets in the country don't have names. People give directions by using reference points, mostly Lake Managua, when in the capital.  Read full article by Carrie Kahn/NPR on below image link- Image Credit:

Mural of Revolutionary Heroes on a Fence in Managua, Nicaragua

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Augusto Nicolas Sandino

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Brazilian mural artists sends World Cup 2014 a clear message: “Need food, not football.”

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Political Fence Murals