Delegates and Participants ( photo by Roland Hui)
Oakland, California - Grand President Carolyn Chan opened the convention with a warm welcome to the delegates and friends, "Our family reunion is a time to reflect and plan our future, while enjoying some wonderful social activities." She also extended a heartfelt appreciation to Oakland Lodge for their tireless efforts and warm hospitality in making the 52nd Biennial National Convention one of the best ever!
Dr. Munson Kwok, past Grand President took us down the memory lane of the history of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance showing leaders advocating for civil rights through the years after a delicious welcome dinner hosted by the Grand Lodge on August 6. We watched a silent recording of the 21st Biennial Convention that was held in Oakland in 1951 where the delegates and their family members danced to a live band, greeted by dignitaries, and enjoyed the camaraderie in formal and informal settings. Their meetings were closed to outsiders; hence, only meals and parties were filmed.
Delegates representing 15 lodges across the country (photo by Roland Hui)
The opening day of the convention was filled with reports from local lodges with themes that focused on membership development especially attracting younger members, promoting historical preservation, educating the public about the Chinese American experience including the Chinese Exclusion Laws, advocating for political empowerment of members in the Chinese and Asian community, building community and participating in community service projects. Another key element in the reports was the importance of collaboration with other organizations. The vice presidents as well as other grand officers also shared reports regarding the progress of their work that included how tos and must dos.
Attentive Delegates (photo by John Tang)
John Chiang, the California State Controller was the speaker at the Wednesday luncheon. He quoted John F. Kennedy of whom he is named after, "to each generation, a torch is passed" emphasizing the need for us to be good stewards, i.e. be "better thinkers and actors" and "don't spend more than you earn". He shared about his own experience in making difficult decisions in order to keep California from going off the fiscal cliff. He beseeched the crowd to be smart about how to get involved, "you as active participants , be leaders to make sure your community is healthy financially, socially, and politically." He encouraged everyone to sit on boards of corporations where we are underrepresented as well as to be engaged at every level working together "to build an America that represents who we are and what we want to be."
Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland and California State Senator Leland Yee both greeted the delegates and guests at the Wednesday dinner sharing stories about their family history that demonstrated hard work and perseverance yielded fruitful outcomes in spite of the hardships endured by the forbearers. They both reminded us to remember the sacrifices the forbearers undertook to keep footing in US against all odds.
The visit to the former US Immigration Station on Angel Island on August 8 was both unsettling and worthwhile. Much was learned from seeing the exhibits, reading the carvings on the walls, and listening to the interpreter's presentation. Learning that "only the people who had trouble with immigration were sent to Angel Island - those who were poor, sick, or Chinese" conjured up sadness and despair for the indignation suffered by the early Chinese immigrants. They were segregated even in detention because of the Chinese Exclusion Laws.
On Friday, Ted Gong delivered a concise and thorough presentation of the events and efforts that led to the passage of the congressional resolutions of expression of regrets for the Chinese exclusion laws - the 1882 Project. Ming Ming Tung-Edelman and Maxine Loo ignited interest in the group with their presentation of an education pilot for a group of Seattle students regarding the Chinese exclusion laws. Suellen Kwok, Eugene Moy, and Rick Eng recapped their efforts in stopping the China House in Rancho Cucamonga from being demolished. They stressed the key elements that helped their efforts - getting the word out through the media, building alliance with local groups, and building relationship with local political leaders.
Frank H. Wu, Chancellor and Dean of UC Hastings wowed the crowd with his own story and motivational speech. He talked about how Vincent Chin's case as a turning point that steered him to stand up and speak out. His experience of being that one and only also helped him to come face to face with issues of race and racial discrimination. Both he and Ms. Saadi used the analogy of "The loudest duck gets shot vs the squeaky wheels gets the grease." Like Saadi, Wu encouraged the group to bring about change by building bridges, running for office, having a seat at the table, and being alongside of candidates. He said, "It is all about showing up and showing up again... democracy is a process not a product where ordinary people not royals are able to determine our own fate. ..we belong to this nation and this nation belongs to us."
34 resolutions were considered at the convention. 24 passed, 4 failed, 3 were tabled, and 3 were withdrawn. Some key resolutions that were passed include several that require constitutional amendment - changing the word "grand" to "national", adding a paragraph that defines the Alliance's mission, adding two new positions: Grand Vice Presidents for Civic Issues and Education, renaming auditor to compliance officer, revision to purposes and objective as well as cardinal principals. These resolutions aimed to modernize the language in the constitution and improve the structure of the organization. Other resolutions that were passed are tied to issues connected to the welfare of the community - judgeships: appointing more Asian Pacific Americans to the federal bench, increase promotion of health issues that affect APIAs, immigration reform, reducing gun violence, increase involvement in youth programs, and in support of marriage equality. Moreover, the Grand Council also committed itself to support historical preservation efforts.
A new Board of Grand Officers for 2013-15 was sworn in on Saturday, August 10. Congratulations to Grand President Edmond Gor ; Grand Executive Vice President Davace Chin ; Grand Vice President Membership Helen Ying ; Grand Vice President Communications Rusty Chan ; Grand Secretary Felicia Yu; Grand Assistant Secretary Faye Woo Lee; Grand Treasurer Melanie Chan; Grand Auditor Joanna Tom; Grand Auditor William Mei; Grand Marshal Richard Fong; Grand Sentinel Joan Sung. Your Grand Executives are: Albert Fong; Robert Gin; Mike Fong; Susan Dickson; Ming-Ming Tung Edelman; Elaine Wong; Paul Wong; Thomas Lee; Lisa Yang; Warren Seeto; Jack Joe and Rudy Yee.
L to R (Front) Davace Chin, Melanie Chan, Helen Ying, Rusty Chan, Munson Kwok, Carolyn Chan, Ed Gor, Nancy Gee, Saykin Foo
L to R (Back) Warren Seeto, Rich Fong, Elaine Wong, Lisa Yang, Joanna Tom, Paul Wong, Ming Ming Tung Edelman, Susan Dickson, Jack Joe, William Mei, Tom Lee, Albert Fong, Felicia Yu, Faye Woo Lee, Joan Sung, Rudy Yee, Bob Gin (photo by Roland Hui)
Members found this convention to be informative, invigorating and inspiring. Linda Wu, a delegate from Houston was delighted with her take aways, "I really feel like within our own communities, we share many common challenges and experiences. All the action points are motivating." Eugene Moy from LA echoed, "It's great to see people approaching the issues with open minds, listening carefully and objectively, as well as participating in the arguments and discussions with perspectives rooted in fairness, equality, and justice."
The Convention closed with a high point honoring five outstanding individuals with the Spirit of America Award at the gala. A press conference was held where they all spoke eloquently about how honored they were to have been selected as honorees of this prestigious award as well as the achievements of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.
L to R: GP Carolyn Chan, Hon. Judy Chu, Hon. Jean Quan, Mr. Jerry Lee,
Dr. Munson Kwok, GP Ed Gor, GVP Helen Ying (photo by Roland Hui)
Congresswoman Judy Chu recapped the efforts behind passing the expression of regrets congressional resolution for the Chinese exclusion laws, "[We] have come together to fight for justice. We fought to reaffirm the rights of all people...Never again will Chinese Americans stay quiet in the face of discrimination." Mayor Jean Quan thanked C.A.C.A. for its help in fighting the recall after being elected to office. She urges AAPI groups to encourage more people to vote, "It's time to stand up and fight for what is right... Asians are the swing votes today." Mayor Quan applauded the Alliance, "The story of C.A.C.A. really helps make real the situation, to stand up as a community and make a difference."
Spirit of America Honorees
L to R: Dr. Munson Kwok, Hon. Judy Chu, Hon. Jean Quan, Mr. Jerry Lee (photo by Roland Hui)
Mr. Jerry Lee thanked C.A.C.A. for the award and credits his parents for his accomplishments. He noted generosity is a trait that he learned from his parents, "Generosity and giving are learned traits. I am a common man who believes in fairness." Dr. Munson Kwok congratulated all the recipients of the Spirit of America Awards acknowledging them as "an illustrious group in governance and philanthropy." He thanked C.A.C.A. and spoke about himself as "simply a volunteer who believes in meeting his responsibilities as an American citizen." and touted the work of the Alliance, "We [C.A.C.A.] have made significant progress... but we still need to voice and carry our commitment forward as America can always become better." Mayor Edwin Lee was unable to attend the event and extended his appreciation in writing, "I am humbled to be recognized by an organization that has done much to make a significant and positive impact on our communities and our country."
A fun time was had by all at the gala with closing remarks from our newly elected Grand President Ed Gor. He aroused the crowd inviting everyone to be a part of the change, "The greatest movement of C.A.C.A. begins here. We are Chinese Americans changing America for the better." The fun continued with members dancing the night away. A GIANT THANK YOU is due to Oakland Lodge for their warm hospitality and a splendid convention.
Oakland Lodge Convention Host Team. L to R: Ed Yu,Felicia Yu, Christina Yu, Sue Yu, Rich Fong, Adrienne Fong, Portia Chan, Alice Lum, Allen Lum, Doug Wong (photo by Roland Hui)