In 1953 Ralph Fasanella painted “Welcome Home, Boys,” a painting which depicts a post-World War II strike. Its title reflects the artist’s concern for the fair treatment of American workers and U. S. veterans returning to working life after the war. Fasanella spent his entire fifty-year painting career commemorating labor activism and progressive politics while passionately advocating for racial and gender equality.
The child of immigrants from Southern Italy, Fasanella was a self-taught painter who held jobs as a truck driver, a textile worker, a machinist, and a union organizer before beginning to paint in 1945. His paintings, with their striking use of color and bold images that often evoke his Italian and working-class background, are recognized today as significant examples of mid-century folk art and are increasingly viewed as integral to the story of American painting.
In 1990 the painting was purchased through a collaboration between a local union and the public art fund of the city of Oakland in order to be hung in a public space in the city of Oakland. Having the painting displayed in Oakland honored the diverse, working-class citizens throughout the Bay area who fought for a piece of post-World War II prosperity after fighting the war or working for years under a no-strike pledge to help the war effort.
In 2003 the African American Museum and Library of Oakland took over custodial care of the painting where it still hangs today.
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