This past week has been one of incredible highs and lows, which will continue into this coming week.
The week began with the Washington, D.C., memorial service for Secretary Norman Mineta. The service was a touching tribute to the many ways he touched the lives of so many of us in so many different ways. The Washington service was followed this week with another in San Jose and will be followed by another on June 25 at the Japanese American National Museum.
In Washington, D.C., the next day after the memorial service, the local chapter celebrated its first picnic in three years. Overnight rainy weather cleared in time for a crowd so large it required two pavilions for everyone to be comfortably seated. For most of us in attendance, we hadn’t seen one another for those three years, and it was a wonderful opportunity to gather and share some time together. Many of us had just been at the memorial service the previous day.
On June 13, President Joe Biden invited leaders from the Asian Pacific American community to celebrate the signing of the Asian Pacific American Museum Study bill into law.
This legislation will pave the way for a possible Smithsonian museum dedicated to the history and culture of Asian Pacific Americans in Washington, D.C.
On June 15, on the other side of the country, the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated Japanese Heritage Night with, among many other events, the opening of the exhibit “Baseball’s Bridge to the Pacific: Celebrating the Legacy of Japanese American Baseball.” This museum-quality installation will be at Dodger Stadium through the All-Star Game in July, and likely beyond. It makes a trip to see the Dodgers worth your time regardless of your team allegiances.
Unfortunately, my presence in Los Angeles was coincidental to the Dodgers game as I was actually in town for a two-day conference on Gun Violence Prevention and the Asian American community.
This was the first such convening of the community on this issue — and long overdue. It had been scheduled before but made all the more relevant and necessary in the wake of the Uvalde and other recent mass shootings.
The week concluded with the 40th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder. It’s a somber reminder of the intersection of anti-Asian violence that galvanized the Asian American community for the first time, leading to an activism that persists through to today and will continue into next week with the Unity March in Washington, D.C.
What all these diverse yet connected events signify is the importance of our upcoming National Convention, whose theme is “Strengthening Our Community Through Action.” The theme is actually a carryover from before Covid-19 led to the unprecedented act of canceling the 2020 convention.
In many ways, our community struggled through Covid both due to the pressures we all felt from the shutdowns and enforced distancing, but even more by the wave of anti-Asian hate inspired by the false assertions that the disease was somehow related to us as Asian Americans, in addition to increasing anti-China rhetoric reminiscent of that directed toward Japan that led to Vincent Chin’s murder. Just as 40 years ago, our community has risen to action.
I hope that you will join us in Las Vegas from Aug. 3-Aug. 6 for convention, whether you are a delegate or just looking to reconnect after these past years of isolation. It will be bittersweet, just as this past week has been, as we remember those we have lost like Secretary Mineta, but we will have the hope of celebrating our community successes.
This will be our first opportunity to confer and pass important resolutions to set the policies for JACL going forward. We will also be electing a new board and passing the next biennial budget. As usual, the National Board will be meeting prior to commencement of the convention in the morning of Aug. 3, and the new board will convene for its first meeting on the morning of Aug. 7.
To register for convention, please be sure to visit https://jacl.org/2022-convention-registration, and we will see you in Las Vegas.
Finally, I would be incredibly grateful if all of you reading this take a brief, important membership survey at jacl.org/survey. By sharing your personal JACL experience, we will be able to improve our membership program for years to come.
David Inoue is executive director of the JACL. He is based in the organization’s Washington, D.C., office.