Son Spots Cesar Chavez Over Biden's Shoulder

Family sees a message in putting the bust in a place of honor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2021 7:20 PM CST
Son Spots Cesar Chavez Over Biden's Shoulder
President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, with a bust of Cesar Chavez behind him.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Paul Chavez had no idea where a sculpture of his father, Latino American civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez, would end up in the White House. He agreed just this week to lend the bronze bust to President Biden and hustled to get it wrapped up and shipped across the country from California. It was an utter surprise Wednesday when he saw Biden at his desk in the Oval Office, with the bust of the late Cesar Chavez right behind the president. "We're still smiling cheek to cheek," Paul Chavez said Thursday, the AP reports. Biden pressed themes of unity and inclusivity and advocacy for racial justice during the campaign, and Chavez said Biden appeared to be trying to convey that through a series of quick decorative changes he's made to the world's most powerful office.

Chavez said the prominent placement of his father's likeness in the White House sends the message that it's a "new day" following the tenure of Donald Trump and the anti-immigrant policies that he and his advisers pushed. Chavez, who is president and chairman of the board of directors of the foundation named for his father, predicted that "the contributions of working people, of immigrants, of Latinos ... will be taken into account" in the new administration. Whenever Biden is seen at his desk, Chavez, a farmworker advocate, will be there, too. Busts of civil rights activists Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. also are on display, along with a sculpture of President Harry Truman. Biden removed a bust of Winston Churchill, the former British prime minister.

(Read more Cesar Chavez stories.)

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