Meet Alejandro Chavez
Alejandro Chavez is an activist who works in grassroots organizing, Latinx outreach and movement-building to activate positive change in communities. He served as the campaign manager for Ruben Gallego’s successful run for State Representative. As senior electoral campaign manager with Democracy for America, Alejandro worked to elect Representative Veronica Escobar, the first Latina congresswoman from Texas, and Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina U.S. Senator.
Alejandro’s grandfather was the renowned labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. We caught up with Alejandro in time for Cesar Chavez Day on March 31. The day has been celebrated for six years as a way to commemorate the ideals he stood for and the issues he worked to support.
Tell us about your grandfather and how he has inspired the work you do today.
I am an organizer myself, so in addition to having admiration for him as my grandfather, I am also inspired as an organizer. All my work and advocacy starts with him, in many ways.
First, my values as a person are rooted in his work. When we were kids, marching, flyering and being active were just ways of life. Be it on the picket line or just one-on-one with him, everything was an educational moment, even if I did not recognize it until years later.
Second, he inspired my thinking, helping me notice who is not being represented or who is “not in the room.” I try to bring them, their voices and their stories to the forefront.
Finally, I want it to always be about the people. He once said it was never about the lettuce or grapes… Always about the people.
Are you familiar with the Garden’s community initiative Spaces of Opportunity? What do you think your grandfather would think of this project?
I am! I think he would be supportive and impressed with the idea. He always believed environmental justice and social justice were the same. He knew the importance of healthy food and having access to it. During boycotts, many times the United Farm Workers would create food pantries, co-ops and use friendly farmers to feed and meet the food needs of farm workers.
President Biden added your grandfather’s bust to the Oval Office. What does that mean to your family?
It’s a great honor for my family. To be honest, I find it to be an even greater honor for everyone who is an organizer, who does not wear a collared shirt to work, has worked the fields, struggled, fought in the struggle, has a “take a shower when you get home” job, and so many more who still fight for “La Causa.” He is there because so many people stood up when he asked, and this represents all who came before, those who are still fighting, and will fight for social, labor and environmental justice.
How do you hope the community would honor your grandfather on his holiday?
Organize and fight for the justice we want! He once said, “There is no perfect political system, but there can be perfect participation.” He was always about working to make the union and the opportunities for farm workers equal to everyone else. I believe on his holiday he would want the community to use their voice to call members of Congress, state legislators and municipalities, and ask them to do the right things on a wide range of issues. From protecting lands and preserving Mother Earth to ensuring voting rights to immigration reform. He once said, when asked about how he would like to be remembered, “Organize.”