The legacy of Cesar Chavez remains in Biden’s staff, The Oval Office

Washington – When President Barack Obama flew to California to offer a national monument to Latin worker leader Cesar Chavez nearly a decade ago, a group of activist relatives were invited to take a picture with him. It was.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Chavez’s granddaughter, sat down. As part of Mr. Obama’s staff, she traveled with the official party of the event, but didn’t want to pay attention to herself.

Only when Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett insisted that Rodriguez reluctantly moved forward and barely entered the frame.

“I said,’Julie, you must be there with your family,'” said Jarrett, Rodriguez’s boss at the White House Office of Public Works. “And she said,’No, I’m a staff member today.'”

White House staff are often enthusiastic hard-workers who crave their slivers in the limelight or trade under well-known names. Rodriguez is clearly an exception as he will start his second tour to serve the President. This time, he is the director of Joe Biden’s intergovernmental issues.


Rodriguez and her staff support state, local, tribal, Puerto Rico and other US territories, depending on federal needs. Recently, it has focused on fighting COVID-19 and distributing aid from $ 1.9 trillion in Biden’s coronavirus rescue program.

Jarrett and others who worked with Rodriguez describe a devoted worker who is shaped by a famous ancestor but is not centered on her family.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki recently confirmed the name “Julie Rodriguez” at a press conference. Removed “Chavez” to suit Rodriguez’s taste.

Cecilia Muñoz, who headed the intergovernmental secretariat for five years under the Obama administration, said Rodriguez is now working not because he is Chavez, but because he is a “Julie.”

“Being Chavez is part of who she is, but she’s there because she’s so skilled and so deeply honest,” Munoz said. It was.

And because Biden wanted her for his team.


Rodriguez is one of a group of Latino Americans who serve at the White House and advise Biden on issues ranging from communication to policy. Latino supporters accused Biden of not doing enough to reach out to these voters in the 2020 presidential election.

Chavez’s influence

The new president constantly redesigns the Oval Office, reflecting personal tastes and sending a broader message about their values ​​and what inspired them.

Biden’s temporary update included placing a Chavez bronze bust in a family photo on the desk just behind him, whenever Biden was seen at his desk. It highlighted the portrait of a late leader of the labor union. The bust is now on a pedestal elsewhere in the Oval Office.

Rodriguez was overwhelmed when he first saw her “Tata” bust in the Oval Office. She said in an interview that her grandfather was her hero and the person she wanted to emulate. Rodriguez explained the “deep pride” he felt when he learned that “the contributions made by our community are recognized in the most powerful rooms in the world.”


Biden upheld his grandfather’s cause of improving the condition of migrant workers, Rodriguez said, and both men were influenced by their Roman Catholic beliefs and their teachings.

“I think there is support for such a shared history and shared … the cause he led,” Rodriguez said of Biden.

The Biden family’s admiration for Chavez and his heritage is also shared by First Lady.

Jill Biden flew to California on March 31st to commemorate the birth of Chavez. She visited the family’s 40-acre land near the city of Delano, the union’s first permanent headquarters.

A National Historic Landmark, this is where Chavez fasted twice. In 1968, he fasted for 25 days without violence, and in 1988, he fasted for 36 days due to the threat of pesticides. It is also the place where thousands of farm workers were vaccinated with COVID-19 this year.

California roots


Rodriguez, 43, was born in Delano to Chavez’s daughter Linda and her husband Arturo Rodriguez. Her grandparents Cesar and Helenchaves volunteered for an American trade union organization full-time, and Rodriguez often went to labor rallies with both couples to help reach out to the community.

Rodriguez’s uncle Paul Chavez said she grew up in the agricultural labor movement and was active in campaigns, picket lines, boycotts, marches and union meetings.

He remembered how to jump off the bus when she got home from elementary school and stop by the office to see what was happening and offer help. She said she was fascinating, curious, and matured over the years.

“She knew how to talk to older people and children of her age,” said Paul Chavez.

Rodriguez worked at a foundation named after his grandfather after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 2000 with a degree in Latin American Studies and before volunteering for the Obama presidential campaign in Colorado.


She was working on a youth initiative at the Interior Ministry when Jarrett recruited her to work on immigrants and Latino Americans at the White House.

Jarrett said he wanted Rodriguez to join the team because of his “extraordinary reputation for excellence, diligence and ability” and “focusing on how to get as much voice as possible, not himself.” ..

Rodriguez later became Jarrett’s adjutant, and her portfolio grew to include veterans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander-Americans, and work with gun violence prevention groups.

Shortly before Obama’s term ended in January 2017, Rodriguez was appointed head of Sen at the time. Kamala Harris in California. Rodriguez later participated in Harris’ 2020 presidential election as political director and chief of staff.

Rodriguez participated in Biden’s campaign to oversee his work with Latino Americans after Harris dropped out. After Biden was elected, he nominated her to lead the Intergovernmental Secretariat.


Her uncle said Rodriguez’s standing with the president was an encouraging message for young people of color.

“Her presence and her presence are very powerful for those who did not have many opportunities, especially those who were locked out of the political and civil issues of our community,” says Paul Chavez. I did.

“Humble” Servant

Kendra Berkov, a deputy adjutant to Rodriguez and a spokesman for the Interior Ministry under Obama, said Rodriguez was very “modest” and staff were initially unaware of family ties.

“After we learned, we were even more inspired by her,” Berkov said.

Rodriguez has responded to Berkov’s phone calls and emails, even though he hasn’t cooperated since Berkov went to the private sector in 2015.

“She was pretty high in the White House and still calls me my” boss, “” Berkov said.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

The legacy of Cesar Chavez remains in Biden’s staff, The Oval Office

Source link The legacy of Cesar Chavez remains in Biden’s staff, The Oval Office

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