There were many changes that took place in Washington D.C. yesterday (Jan 20). President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, and along with that came many executive orders on everything from COVID to immigration. But there was also a change to the Oval office and all it’s decor. Each President chooses, very meticulously, what pieces of art are installed.
A photo of Biden’s Oval was released to the press and the internet was quick to catch the bust of Latino civil rights leader and founder of the United Farm Workers union, Cesar Chavez.
Chavez’s influence goes one step beyond the artwork because his granddaughter, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, is Biden’s director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. “It really speaks to the contributions and importance of the work of our community. Immigrants have given and continue to give to this country, even in the toughest of times,” Paul Chavez, his son and the president and chairman of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, told CNN in an interview.
Social media users quickly shared their opinions on the choice and what it means to them.
Some are sharing how they met the now deceased Mexican-American leader, in marches in the 70s and 80s, when they were kids and marching with their parents.
Meanwhile, some Twitter users were misguided or just plain wrong. One British political journalist called it worrying that Biden replaced a bust of Churchill with that of “socialist president” Cesar Chavez. And they weren’t alone–several MAGA influencers stated similar opinions but were quickly chastised and educated on the differences between the former Venezuelan president and the Latino rights leader.
Also, a few Latinos stated that having Chavez in the Oval was an insult to undocumented workers and people because Chavez was famously against “illegal” immigration. And while that may have been true when the lucha began, in 1974, Chavez wrote a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle explaining his shift in opinion and vowed to fight for the rights of their undocumented “brothers and sisters.”