Biden, donning a black face mask, sat behind the desk to sign some executive orders Wednesday night. One order requires masks and social distancing on federal property.
Former President Donald Trump rarely wore a face covering, especially while at the White House, in the Oval Office and behind the Resolute Desk.
He even infamously and – pointedly – removed his mask as soon as he returned from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following treatment for COVID-19 in October.
A bronze bust of Mexican-American civil rights activist and labor leader César Chávez stood out from behind the Resolute Desk as Biden signed the executive orders.
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Chavez founded what would later become the United Farmworkers Union in the 1960s, and led several strikes and marches over the next several decades to improve conditions for farmworkers in the country, emphasizing nonviolent protests.
He is well-known for organizing in the fields, his hunger strikes, the grape boycott and eventual victory in getting growers to negotiate with farmworkers for better wages and working conditions.
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“Si se puede,” a chant that became popular during his movement, has been used for many other progressive causes. Most notably, former President Barack Obama, for whom Biden served as vice president, borrowed the phrase and used the English-language equivalent, “Yes, we can,” as his slogan for his successful 2008 presidential campaign.
Biden selected Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Chavez’s granddaughter who worked in the Obama administration and in Biden’s campaign, as his director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The Chavez bust is just one of several American leaders and icons that now fill the Oval Office. There are also busts of civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
A massive portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt also hangs across from the Resolute Desk.
Gone is the controversial painting of President Andrew Jackson that Trump had hung in the Oval Office. Biden replaced it with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin “to represent Biden’s interest in following science,” according to the Washington Post.