SStudents in Professor Zachary Vernon’s graphic design class at California State University Los Angeles are used to creating visual campaigns for fake clients.
But earlier this month, these patrons were in the room, listening intently as undergraduate students present their final projects for the semester: anti-hate public service campaigns that promote inclusion and hate crime reporting for the city of Los Angeles’ LA for All campaign.
“We launched LA for All to fight hate in our city and champion diversity, inclusion and belonging in Los Angeles,” said Capri Maddox, executive director of the city’s Civil + Human Rights and Equity department. and alumnus of Cal State LA.
“Involving Cal State LA students in this work is a natural fit. These young people are the future of Los Angeles, and their vision of an inclusive and empowered Los Angeles is what we at the Civil Rights Department of Los Angeles We are so honored to have this partnership with Cal State LA.
Janet Dial, vice president for academic advancement and executive director of the Cal State LA Foundation, called the initiative “exciting.”
“To see our professors and students offering their ideas and works to further this message is inspiring,” Dial added. “Capri Maddox is an incredible ambassador for the city and our university. We are grateful for his leadership.
LA for All, launched in May by the Civil + Human Rights and Equity department, is an anti-hate campaign in 18 languages and more than 4,000 ad spaces in greater Los Angeles. Its bright colors and messages like “LA is for everyone” and “I Belong. You belong. We belong.” adorned buses, trains, parks, stadiums and more, making it the city government’s largest anti-hate PSA campaign.
This campaign expands with the perspectives of Cal State LA undergraduates, many of whom grew up nearby amid a five-year increase in reported hate crimes in Los Angeles, including a 20% jump the year last.
Students from Vernon’s Concept Development course were tasked with creating a compelling poster design that communicated their personal interpretation of one of the main messages of the LA for All campaign. Students have produced work ranging from illustration and photography to abstract art and typographic designs.
The works included street art, portraits of diverse families and communities, and bold statements of solidarity and inclusion in English and Spanish. A poster showed LA County as if it were all flowers, surrounded by a sea of overlapping colors. Another simply said “Protege Nuestro Hogar” (Protect our home) in front of bright sunshine.
“Good design speaks to us on a fundamentally human level,” Vernon said. “There is nothing more human than creating bonds between people. That was the goal of this project, and the students really took it to heart.
Cal State LA, ranked #1 in the United States for upward mobility, has a diverse student body. The majority of its 27,000 students are non-white, and many see the need for more messages that stand up to hate and division in Los Angeles.
“As we see what is happening around us, it is important to watch out for each other and stick together,” said student Valeria Olvera. “I wanted to create an image that captures the simplicity and beauty of helping each other in our community.”
His classmate Heo Kim said having a sense of belonging or togetherness allows people to reflect on their unity with their community or country.
“Since LA is a place where different races exist, I want to emphasize a strong sense of togetherness and tell people that LA can belong to anyone and anyone can belong to LA,” Kim said.