Monday, June 17, 2024

Biden Places Cesar Chavez Among America’s Heroes in Oval Office

The Oval Office décor rapidly changed after President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Frames featuring people like Andrew Jackson were quickly replaced with portraits of the Founding Fathers and civil rights leaders such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Among the new displays is Mexican American farm labor leader Cesar Chavez.

In the 1960s and 70s, Cesar Chavez brought public attention to the situation of Latino immigrants and workers harvesting America’s crops. His advocacy led farmworkers to gain fairer wages, lunch breaks, and access to toilets and clean water on the job.

Chavez was born in 1927 and joined the Navy as a teen where he served two years before becoming a community activist and organizer. In 1962, Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association which later became the United Farm Workers union. In 1968, Chavez fasted for more than two weeks which led to a meeting with Senator Robert F. Kennedy who was horrified by the working conditions they witnessed, thus, pledged to support Chavez and their cause.

Chavez passed in 1993, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom the following year. President Barack Obama also honored Chavez during his time in office, declaring the anniversary of his birth, March 31, as Cesar Chavez Day. Paul Chavez now continues the work set forth by his father, helping those new to the U.S.,families and descendants who have lived in the country for decades. His foundation focuses on affordable housing, educational programs, community service, and the rights of workers throughout the Southwest. His foundation also provides information from medical experts and local leaders on how to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, register for vaccines as well as the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The last four years you’ve heard so many derogatory things about our community, you would believe we all got here yesterday and that we’re here doing things we shouldn’t be doing. Many times, we’re treated as second class citizens, so what we do is remind people of the contributions and the importance that our community and immigrants bring to improve this society” said Chavez.

Now, with Cesar Chavez display in the Oval Office, his son hopes that an immigration reform will be one of the main priorities for the new administration. “We’re happy that the bust is there. It represents the hopes and aspirations of an entire community that has been demonized and belittled, and we hope this is the beginning of a new day, a new dawn in which the contributions of all Americans can be cherished and valued” he said.