LOS ANGELES — 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.

“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.

The Kennedy campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

César Chávez Speaks At Rally
American labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers (formerly known as the National Farm Workers Association) César Chávez speaks at a rally in Coachella, Calif. in 1977.Cathy Murphy / Getty Images file

On Friday, ahead of César Chávez Day, the 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 this weekend 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 Chavez.

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.

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