Cesar Chavez Sits in the Oval Office, Offers Latinos a New Era of Hope

Cesar Chavez Oval Office Biden BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of The Inquirer.

President Joe Biden is already making strides and showing the people he will keep his word and campaign promises.

While sitting at the oval office to sign his first of many executive orders, the country could see something different appeared behind the new president. Instead of a more traditional portrait of Andrew Jackson, Cesar Chavez’s bust — the American civil rights activist and farm labor leader— was sitting beside Biden’s family pictures. 

The Symbol of a Longed-for Era

During the Great Depression, Chavez was only 11 years old when his family lost their farm, forcing them to become migrant farmworkers. Throughout his adolescence and adulthood, Chavez worked in the field, orchards, and vineyards in California to help his family. 

In 1952, he was recruited and trained by Fred Ross, a community organizer who formed the San Jose chapter of the Community Service Organization, the most famous Latino civil rights group at the time. 

He spent a decade coordinating voter registration, mobilizing voters, leading campaigns against racial and economic discrimination, and more chapters of the organization throughout the state. 

Cesar’s dream was to organize a union that would protect and serve the farmworkers whose poverty and powerlessness he had shared,” the Cesar Chavez Foundation explains. “He knew the history of farmworker organizing was one sad story after another of broken unions and strikes crushed by violence.”

A Hopeful New day

In 1965, alongside Dolores Huerta, Chavez created the National Farm Workers Association. That same year, he led a five-year strike by California grape pickers and a nationwide boycott. After an uphill battle and much resistance, the civil rights leader managed to sit at the bargaining table.

The son of the famous activist, Paul F. Chavez, said the bust of his father “symbolizes the hopeful new day that is dawning for our nation.” 

Chavez added that the bust wasn’t just about his dad “because it represents faith and empowerment for an entire people on whose behalf he fought and sacrificed.”