In the center of this panel from the 'Pan American Unity Mural' by renowned Mexican painter Diego Rivera stands John Brown (1800-1859), an abolitionist who fought to end slavery in the U.S. Surrounding John Brown and standing under Rivera's 'Tree of Liberty' are the founders of the Independence Movements of both Anglo and Latin America. Included are Simon Bolivar ("The Liberator" and emancipator of slaves in Venezuela), Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (Mexican priest and revolutionary regarded as the father of Mexican independence), Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon (Mexican priest, military leader and statesman who fought for Mexican independence), George Washington (a leader of the American revolution and first President of the U.S.), Thomas Jefferson (author of Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the U.S.) and, Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President and emancipator of the slaves).
Rivera's symbolism in the panel reflects his theme of Pan American Unity with John Brown exhorting the crowd to revolt against slavery. Jefferson holds a document on which his famous words are written...."The Tree of Liberty needs to be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Lincoln holds the Gettysburg Address rededicating a nation divided to the principles of representative union..."a government of the people, by the people and for the people". At the moment Rivera was painting this mural in 1940, liberty was being seriously threatened by events in Europe and elsewhere.
In the lower right of this panel Rivera painted a Tehuantepec sculptress who represents a matriarchal society (the 'Zapotec' culture) in southern Mexico in which women do the creative work. Rivera's wife, Frida Kahlo, adopted Tehuana traditional dress as a kind of solidarity with these women (see www.flickr.com/photos/greatestpaka/6924465829/in/photostream ).
Diego Rivera's 'Pan American Unity Mural' can be seen today at the Diego Rivera Theater on the campus of the City College of San Francisco in San Francisco, California (see map).