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Julie Chavez Rodriguez Talks Latino Vote, Early Battles Against Prejudice

The walk has been a long one for Julie Chavez Rodriguez, from the picket lines of United Farm Workers to the halls of the White House.

Getting to the West Wing wasn’t easy for the granddaughter of late civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. His activism, pickets and boycotts drew the ire of many in the early years, including former California Gov. Ronald Regan. Chavez Rodriguez’s parents and family paid a heavy price.

“I remember her and my aunt Sylvia and others talking about having to go to school and being taunted. Or parents, organizing Mothers Against Chavez, and kids coming to school with buttons, and how hard that was,” she said. “But also how hard working as a farmworker was.”

Chavez Rodriguez, now a senior advisor to President Joe Biden and the administration’s highest-ranking Latino member, began her fight for farmworkers at the age of 5, helping with flyers and pickets. It was then that she realized the family calling was a non-violent fight for justice – no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice.

“I can’t think of better role models than from the two of them to my grandparents, to the farmworkers that I got to see really standing up and speaking out against the injustices that they were facing,” Chavez Rodriguez said.

That’s the struggle that ultimately led Chavez Rodriguez to the White House, first as director of public engagement under President Barack Obama and now as White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and senior advisor to Biden.

“So many of us come from humble beginnings, and often times, those roots are what keeps us really grounded and focused on who it is we’re fighting for and why it is we’re doing this work,” Chavez Rodriguez said.

In the White House, Chavez Rodriguez is at the table, advocating for social issues and pushing for higher Latino voter turnout. She said voting is the only way to build lasting political power and ensure Latino voices are heard at every level of government.

“The Latino community is really helping to revitalize our economy in critical ways,” she said. “And I’m just excited to see that effort underway and to continue to use these opportunities to not just build roads and bridges in our communities, but really build wealth and continue to provide opportunity for many.”

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