Family of Cesar Chavez tells RFK Jr. to stop invoking the activist’s name in campaign


The family of labor activist Cesar Chavez sent a letter to independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Friday, warning him to stop referencing the late patriarch in election campaigns or face potential legal action.

The letter, signed by Cesar Chavez’s eldest son, Fernando, reiterates the family’s support for President Biden, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the granddaughter of the labor union leader, leads Biden’s reelection campaign.

“We respectfully call upon you and your campaign to cease using images of our father to associate yourself with him and suggest your campaign’s goals are compatible,” Fernando Chavez writes.

The letter comes a day before Kennedy is set to host a campaign event in Los Angeles on Cesar Chavez’s birthday to launch a Latino outreach program. In promoting the event, Kennedy called Chavez a good friend.

“Join us for a day of Mexican food, drinks, culture, voter registration assistance, and inspiring remarks from RFK, Jr. and other special guests,” the campaign website advertises, featuring a photo of Kennedy’s father and Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers. The activist’s birthday is also observed as a California state holiday.

In a statement, Kennedy chalked the criticism up to “politics” and said that he has stood for the labor leader’s values for a long time.

“I worked with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers on multiple issues, events, and campaigns for nearly 50 years,” he said, adding that Saturday was a day to “honor Cesar Chavez and his close friendship with my father, my family and me and his impact on our country.”

Kennedy’s father famously supported the farmworkers’ strike that Chavez led in the 1960s and was present when Chavez broke his hunger strike.

In the letter, Fernando Chavez says the family remains grateful to the younger Kennedy for helping carry Chavez’s casket after his death in 1993, as did other prominent figures.

“To our knowledge, none of them have featured images carrying the casket in their political campaign materials and promotions,” Fernando Chavez writes. “We take offense at the use of such sacred moments purely for political purposes.”

Before joining the Biden campaign, Chavez Rodriguez worked in both the Obama and Biden White Houses. Biden also has a bust of Cesar Chavez in the Oval Office.

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