From left to right: Scott Wong, Seung-Min Kim, and Michelle Ye Hee Lee accept their Beacon of Democracy award, posing for a photo with APIAVote's Executive Director Christine Chen.
On his way from work to accept his award, Scott Wong, reporter for The Hill and a recipient of APIAVote’s 2017 Beacon of Democracy, passed by a sculpture of two cranes tangled in barbed wire, commemorating the struggle of Japanese Americans when they were unjustly incarcerated during World War 2.
Inscribed on one of the walls at the Japanese American memorial is the number 13,348, the number of people who were interned at Gila River, Arizona. That number includes Wong’s two grandparents, who neither had the right to vote nor representation in Congress.
“[Japanese Americans] had very few journalists that were willing to tell their stories. Essentially they had no voice. Two generations later I realize that I am incredibly fortunate to have a voice in Washington, protected by the first amendment and the Constitution that ultimately failed my grandparents during World War 2,” Scott Wong said.
Wong, along with fellow recipients Seung-Min Kim and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, spoke about the need to tell more stories about Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters at APIAVote’s Taste of Democracy, an annual food and wine tasting benefit, on Dec. 6 at Jones Day.
Seung-Min Kim, a reporter covering the U.S. Senate for POLITICO, told the audience how she uncovered a story about Nevada's 2016 U.S. Senate race on how the candidates were courting AAPI voters, who had the potential to tip the election.
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, an investigative reporter at The Washington Post, said that journalists must take time to write stories accurately, fairly and with compassion about the AAPI community. Born in Korea and raised in Guam, Lee also said there weren’t that many people that looked liked her who did national political coverage. Notably published when xenophobic political rhetoric sharply rose in 2016, she wrote about the difficulty of earning her U.S. citizenship, and gaining the right to vote in The Washington Post.
We thank U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu and U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng for helping to present the Beacon of Democracy to these AAPI reporters who work tirelessly to keep our government accountable. We also thank U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, who represents Guam, for her closing remarks.
Thanks to our sponsors for making Taste of Democracy possible: Comcast NBC Universal, Wilde and Associates, LLC, Southwest Airlines, and Jones Day. Congratulations to our big winner Rita Ahrens for winning the drawing of a Southwest Airline roundtrip ticket.
Remembering Ed Lee, the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco
Ed Lee spoke at APIAVote's reception at the 2012 DNC Convention in Charlotte, NC.
We are devastated to hear about the sudden passing of Ed Lee, the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco.
He started his career as an advocate for civil rights and affordable housing. Asians make up one-third of the city's population, according to Census data. He made sure the voices of Asian Americans in San Francisco were heard. Early on after he was appointed as mayor, he reached out to APIAVote to figure out how he could be involved on a national level in encouraging AAPIs to register to vote and to uplift the importance of the growing AAPI electorate.
His voice and cheer will be missed, but we continue this work in memory of our friend Mayor Ed Lee.
AARP representatives Luis Campillo and Susan Wang provided welcome remarks, pointing out caregiving resources that are available in California.
Caregivers Peggy Li and Ryo Masukawa provided compelling examples of what it is like to both take care of loved ones and themselves.
Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, moderated the panel discussion.
Although U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu could not attend the event in person because of last minute scheduling of votes, she recorded a special message for the audience.
"Caregiving is such a critical issue in the lives of so many families. I know of this personally because of the caregivers that helped my father during the final months of his life. Two years ago, he passed away at the age of 91. We watched as he grew frailer. What I know is that if it weren't for his caretakers, I don't know what we would have done. They made all the difference," Chu said.