Eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted something familiar on the credenza behind President Joe Biden as he signed executive orders Wednesday on his first official day in the Oval Office. Among the family photos was a bronze bust of famed labor leader Cesar E. Chavez.
Supporters of the civil rights leader said seeing it displayed in such a prominent way was monumental.
“I was watching NBC.com with tears in my eyes,” said Elizabeth Strater, spokeswoman for the United Farm Workers, the organization Chavez helped found in the 1960s. “My heart is full seeing Cesar Chavez looking over Joe Biden’s shoulders. It is a new day.”
The 9-inch by 22-inch bronze sculpture on a granite pedestal was created by artist Paul A. Suarez and has been on display in the Visitor Center of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in the Tehachapi Mountain town of Keene, Calif., southeast of Bakersfield.
Strater said the President-elect’s transition team asked for the artwork for the Oval Office and it was shipped to the White House by the Cesar Chavez Foundation, which through its arm, the National Chavez Center, helps run the national monument in a partnership with the National Park Service.
“Placing a bust of my father in the Oval Office symbolizes the hopeful new day that is dawning for our nation,” said Paul F. Chavez , Chavez’s middle son and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “That isn’t just because it honors my dad, but more importantly because it represents faith and empowerment for an entire people on whose behalf he fought and sacrificed.”
Chavez, who died on April 23, 1993, was lauded for fighting to improve the lives and working conditions of thousands of California’s farmworkers.
His presence in the Oval Office isn’t the only connection the UFW has to the new administration. Chavez’s granddaughter Julie Chavez Rodriguez was picked as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
*story by The Fresno Bee