old school unity art drawing by artist Julio Castaneda
Los Angeles inner city meeting space filled with graffiti
original unity symbol mural by Danny Marquez in downtown Los Angeles (1993)
La Raza Unida drawing shows original unity symbol pendant - by artist Jose Quezada (1997)
L.A. homegirl with Xcano Films walks with a unity symbol banner in the streets of downtown Los Angeles (2006)
Original unity symbol graffiti seen photographed at The Venice Strand (Ocean Front walk) in Venice Beach, CA (1991)

What does the symbol mean? I mean, is there a meaning to why it was created in that way? What kind of symbol is it?

Greetings my friend,

Simply put, the symbol is an ideogram which represents "unity". Hence, the reason it is called the "unity symbol".

It's history is rather involved. We [ Unity Corps ] are currently in the process of documenting its history now. That is, I'm in the process of writing a book on its evolution while others are currently both collecting and generating images of its further implementation in society through photographs and art.

Because, its involvement with our greater society is progressing so rapidly at this time; I suppose I'm waiting for a few more major social occurrences before going fully public with the complete story of its origin. For example, if you access the following web site: www.unitysymbol.com you'll see that the history section hasn't been filled out. In other words, it isn't being broadcast just yet. There are a number of reasons for this. They too are also rather involved.

Unfortunately, I haven't the time required to fully write on the history of the unity symbol here. For a more lengthy discussion, I suppose we'll have to wait for the book... I will however provide you with a very brief history of the unity symbol since you have asked and also per the request of Peace Child (the moderator of this group).

At the time of it's design back in the late 1980s, much research was being conducted to see if a symbol existed that specifically represented the concept of "human unity". Interestingly enough, at that time, we were not able to find even one. There were no examples to be found in any of the literature and other sources used in libraries at the time. As such, the need for a design of a symbol representing human unity emerged. During this time, the streets of Los Angeles were filled with much animosity and hatred amongst many of the diverse ethnic and cultural groups, as well as social entities that existed in the city. These hatreds which had been festering for many years culminated in the Los Angeles riots of 1992. The riots along with a few other circumstances such as: a widespread public usage of the slogan "No Justice No Peace"; and, the rejection of the peace symbol in the streets of L.A. at that time, helped to foster some of the reasons why the unity symbol came into further prominence in society.

Simply put, the unity symbol evolved from some of the most dangerous inner city streets in urban Los Angeles at a time when the city was being torn apart by hate. Its design specifically evolved from the Chicano (Mexican-American) cholo (gangster) style of graffiti that was commonly seen in the streets. Below is a representation of the exact street graffiti that the unity symbol specifically evolved from. Because you are in Odessa, TX and 'possibly' not overly familiar with this style of graffiti being shown (unless familiar with it through hip hop culture which has also subsequently adopted this style of writing), it may not be easy for you to read. In case you can't, I will let you know that it is the letters "L" and "R" which stands for "La Raza".

LA street graffiti, origina of the original unity symbol

In Spanish (most specifically amongst the Latinos of the Americas) the term La Raza has two meanings. Literally, the term translates to "The Race". It is used to refer to the Native American (North & South American) people that were created as a result of mixing the bloods between the Pre-Columbian Native Americans and Europeans (most commonly the Spanish Conquistadors who came to inhabit the New World). It also refers to humanity in general or simply the "human race". In the unity symbol - which came from the graffiti of the term - any ambiguity of meaning is taken away with the addition of a circle which also represents the world, our planet earth.

Original unity symbol surrounded by Chicano style graffiti

Subsequent to the design, promotion, and popularity of the unity symbol and our society's past few decades of promoting the unity vibe, a few other unity symbols have also emerged during the past few years. While other artistic representations of unity and symbols of various integrations and solidarities between members of diverse groups have existed, more often than not, the messages represented have been very specific to singular group alliances and/or goals as opposed to being more broad minded in scope and intent. Common examples of this would be: single ethnic group endeavors such as African-American unity campaigns; white supremacist ideologies, etc.; tolerance and cooperation amongst various religions and/or community leaders; bi-partisan patriotic alliances; political partnerships; straight nationalism and/or single mindedness toward specific individual/group goals such as: sobriety; gun ownership; homosexual rights; struggles of industrial labor unions; etc... However, again as stated before, to the best of our knowledge and previous research, the unity symbol as seen above is the very first symbol to have ever been created and used specifically to represent "total human unity" or "oneness amongst all human beings".

I hope this general description has been helpful to you. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to email me directly at director@unitycorps.org. Your interest in the unity symbol and hopefully, additionally, "The Cause", is most appreciated and respected.

Peace through unity,

~ A ~

P.S. - Since the adoption of the unity symbol in our early years, Unity Corps does not any longer advocate a usage of the term "race". There was a brief period of time in which the "LR" for "La Raza" was replaced with the acronym "OLR" for "One Loving Race". This is no longer the case. Although it too is part of the unity symbol's history, present UC policy for all usages of the unity symbol within our organization only allow for the original intent of its conceptual meaning, i.e. "human unity". The term "race" is most usually replaced with the term "ethnicity" or other more specific descriptors in all public speaking and literature.