It’s common for new US presidents to add their personal touch to the Oval Office in the White House upon their arrival. And the changes made by Joe Biden are largely a statement of intent.
The president’s office, in the west wing of the White House, is decorated with portraits and busts of some of the most famous and influential leaders in the country’s history.
“It was important that President Biden walked into an Oval Office that looked like America and began to give a vision of who would be president,” Ashley Williams, deputy director of operations in the Oval Office, told The Washington Post.
Gone are the image of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States and the populist leader Trump knew so much and whose government also faced rejection despite never having been held accountable.
His image, to the left of the desk bench “Tough”, has been replaced by one by Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation’s founding fathers, prominent writer, scientist, and philosopher.
The Washington Post indicated that Franklin’s photo was intended to represent President Biden’s interest in drawing on science in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
Martin Luther King Way Rosa Parks
From his office, Biden will look up and see, by the fireplace, a bust of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, two men the president regularly cites as influencing the civil rights movement, according to the US press.
Another statue in the room is that of prominent activist Rosa Parks.
Above the fireplace hangs a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president who led the country through the Great Depression and World War II.
A painting of another former president, Thomas Jefferson, accompanied by another man who usually had disagreements: Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alexander Hamilton, “a symbol of how differences of opinion within the walls of the Republic are expressed, essential to democracy,” the president’s office indicated, according to the Post.
Duos of other famous former presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have also been posted.
Very prominent details
But if there were details that caught the attention of the public in particular on social networks, it was the bust of the leader of the Spanish Confederation, Cesar Chávez.
A bust of Chávez (1927–1993) can be found directly behind Biden’s desk chair, on a table and in a distinct setting: among the many family portraits.
A native of Arizona, Chávez was the founder of the United Farm Workers Union and one of the most important Latin leaders in defending the civil rights of Spaniards and farm workers, most of whom are immigrants.
The activist made the “yes, we can” cry, created by his trade union partner Dolores Huerta, popular, and years later, Barack Obama was embracing his campaign.
Golden curtains outside
The other thing Biden broke upon his arrival were the golden curtains Trump put in place when he took office in 2017
Gold has been replaced by a darker shade of blue and gold drapes that adorned the same office when Democratic President Bill Clinton was in office, according to the Washington Post.
The flags of the various branches of the army were also replaced by the American flag, and the other by the presidential seal.
Biden also decided to get rid of the controversial bust of British leader Winston Churchill.
Trump had promised to return the statue to the Oval Office after his predecessor, Barack Obama, removed it.
Then the then foreign secretary, Boris Johnson – now the UK prime minister – accused Obama of “hating the old British Empire”.
On this occasion, his spokesman moved away from controversy: “The Oval Office is the private office of the President of the Republic and it is up to him to decorate it as he pleases.”
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