Born and raised in Arizona, farmworker Cesar Chavez is the icon of organizing and plight for the farmworker in America.
“The truth is this is actually a great honor for anybody who doesn’t wear a suit to work. This is a great honor...for anybody who is an organizer... that's fought oppression... worked the fields...done labor, or has a 'take a shower after' type of job,” says Alejandro, the grandson of Cesar Chavez, from his South Phoenix home.
The bust has been placed along with the pictures of the Biden family. It is always visible at any press briefing the President gives on any given day. Alejandro says the morning the bust was first showed on television, his phone was ringing constantly.
“My wife said, ‘hey your phone has been ringing constantly.' I was asleep when it first started appearing on television,” adds Chavez.
Chicanos Por La Causa, a non-profit geared towards educating, supporting, and providing resources to the Latino community in Arizona, believes the bust is sending out a clear message to Hispanics everywhere.
"I believe that President Biden is saying, 'I see you, I understand and you are important to the fabric of our nation,'” says Carlos Galindo of CPLC.
Perhaps the clearest way in which President Biden is putting words into action is through his immigration bill sitting at the hands of Congressmen and women. The bill includes a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. According to the Democratic Caucus, half of the 11 million are considered essential workers.
“And what the president is trying to accomplish, that’s a synergy that you can’t deny,” adds Galindo.
For Alejandro Chavez, who currently works for the Farm Workers Union, he would like the bust to be seen as a catalyst to provide COVID-19 preventative care for farmworkers in counties like Yuma, where working from home isn’t a viable option.
"There has to be a way for farmworkers...to be prioritized because we know the value of the supply chain. Can you imagine if it wasn’t functioning?” he adds.
Arizona farmworkers fall into category 1B for the vaccine, putting many of them at continued risk with minimal social distancing possible as they pick fruits and vegetables out on the fields. The vaccine for this group is slated to be administered sometime in late February or early March. This timeframe could very well change given some supply and demand issues.
Alejandro also says his late grandfather and President Biden had two important things in common: they are both Catholics and have a love of family. During his plight for farmworkers, Cesar Chavez fasted for 36 days protesting the use of pesticides in the farm fields.