WASHINGTON – 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 Joe 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 in an interview Thursday.
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 farm worker advocate, will be there, too.
Biden revealed his Oval Office touch-up Wednesday as he signed a raft of executive orders and other actions in his first hours as the nation's 46th president.
The most visually striking change is Biden's choice of a deep blue rug, with the presidential seal in the middle, that was last used by President Bill Clinton, to replace a light colored rug laid down by Trump. Biden is also using Clinton's deep gold draperies.