César Chávez’s family demands RFK Jr. stop using images of the iconic labor leader in his campaign

April 2, 2024

The family of César Chávez wants independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to stop referencing the late labor and civil rights leader on the campaign trail, reports NBC News.

“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,” said the letter signed by Chávez’s eldest son, Fernando Chávez.

“It is our sincere conviction that this association is untrue and deceptive,” he added.

The letter said that the family would “pursue all legal action available” if Kennedy failed to halt his campaign’s use of the United Farm Workers co-founder’s name and imagery.

When reached for comment, Kennedy campaign spokesperson Stefanie Spear said: “RFK Jr.’s father, Robert F. Kennedy, was a good friend of César Chávez and a staunch supporter of farmworkers throughout his life. RFK Jr. has carried on that legacy and has spent more than 40 years fighting against the poisoning of workers and consumers.”

On Friday, ahead of César Chávez Day, the Chávez family formally endorsed President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. One of César Chávez’s granddaughters, Julie Rodriguez Chavez, serves as Biden’s 2024 campaign manager. Dolores Huerta, Chavez’s partner in founding the UFW, has also remained a Biden ally.

In 1968, Kennedy’s father, former Attorney General Robert Kennedy Sr., flew to California to join Chavez after he had engaged in a water-only fast for 25 days. Kennedy Sr.—at the time running for the Democratic presidential nomination—lent considerable political backing to the farm labor movement’s nonviolent efforts, which included a multiyear strike of the California grape industry. His relationship with Chavez was a key marker for the Democratic Party’s embrace of the farmworkers’ labor rights movement. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

Kennedy Jr. is holding an event in Los Angeles that his campaign said will “celebrate the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez, a good friend of RFK and RFK, Jr.” The invitation for the event includes a photo of Kennedy Sr. and Chávez.

In July 2023, at a conference for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Kennedy commented on his family’s relationship with Chavez.

“My father’s close—and probably most important political alliance—which was César Chávez, who helped him win the California primary during the last day of his life and remained a very, very close friend of mine for most of my adult life,” Kennedy said.

Research contact: @NBCNews