NAPABA Applauds Eleventh Circuit Ruling Halting Enforcement of Florida’s Discriminatory Alien Land Law

For Immediate Release: 
Date: February 2, 2024 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy 

WASHINGTON – In the ongoing litigation against Florida’s discriminatory alien land law (“SB 264”), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit granted a preliminary injunction yesterday in favor of two of the plaintiffs and halted enforcement of the law against them. In temporarily blocking SB 264, the court held that the plaintiffs demonstrated a substantial likelihood that the statute is preempted by federal law and that they have shown an imminent risk that the law would cause them irreparable harm. The plaintiffs, lawfully present Chinese immigrants, first brought the suit because they were stymied in their efforts to purchase homes when the law went into effect.

“We are grateful that the court recognized the real harm that discriminatory statutes such as SB 264 are imposing on the Asian American community,” said Anna Mercado Clark, President of NAPABA. “As litigation continues, NAPABA will continue to oppose alien land laws, whether in the halls of Congress, in statehouses, or in court, until these discriminatory policies return to the dustbin of history, where they belong.”

In a robust concurrence, Judge Nancy Abudu acknowledged that “SB 264 was enacted for the specific purpose of targeting people of Chinese descent.” Judge Abudu concluded that the plaintiffs have shown a substantial likelihood that statute also violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. In doing so, Judge Abudu excoriated the District Court’s fraught reliance on the widely discredited century-old Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197 (1923), case, determining that it “may have had support in 1923, but it is now 2024” and such laws are now subject to strict scrutiny.

NAPABA, together with its four Florida affiliates, joined an amicus brief before the Eleventh Circuit in the case, continuing our long history for over a decade of leading efforts to overcome the state’s legacy of anti-Asian alien land laws. This includes when Florida became the last state in the United States over five years ago to abolish such discriminatory language from its constitution, only to enact SB 264 last year. Throughout the country, NAPABA and its affiliates continue to fight these discriminatory measures through legislative advocacy and educating lawmakers and the wider public on the painful history and legal implications of wrongfully restricting the property rights of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.

NAPABA Disagrees with Eighth Circuit Decision Undermining Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965


For Immediate Release:
 
Date: November 27, 2023 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy 

WASHINGTON – Since 1965, our Nation relied on the promise of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. It prohibits state and local governments from advancing any election or voting standard that discriminates on the basis of race or color. For decades, private parties brought numerous enforcement actions under Section 2, which became a critical tool to realize Section 2’s fundamental guarantee of equal voting rights for all Americans. Even the Supreme Court of the United States, as it invalidated a separate part of the Act in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013), recognized the ability of private parties to enforce Section 2 through litigation, observing not only that “individuals have sued to enforce [Section] 2,” but also that “Section 2 is permanent [and] applies nationwide.” And just this past term, in Allen v. Milligan, 599 U.S. _ (2023), the Supreme Court decided a Section 2 claim in favor of private litigants challenging Alabama’s congressional districting plan.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, however, seeks to chart a different course. On November 20, 2023, in a 2-1 decision that disregards decades of precedent, the court held in Arkansas State Conference NAACP v. Arkansas Board of Apportionment that private parties may not bring enforcement actions under Section 2. In its view, only the Attorney General of the United States may do so.

We disagree. Nothing in the plain text of Section 2 compels this result. Considering the long history of Section 2, coupled with Congress’s explicit countenance, the private enforcement mechanism is a central feature of Section 2’s protection of equal voting rights. The Eighth Circuit’s decision, which comes less than a year before the 2024 presidential election, risks upending widespread reliance on a core protection of the Act. If left intact, it leaves any vindication of Section 2 rights to the sole discretion of one government official rather than with the voters themselves.

While this litigation continues, NAPABA continues to call on Congress to strengthen the Voting Rights Act by restoring the Act’s coverage in the aftermath of Shelby County, maximizing the full protections for all eligible Americans to vote, and prohibiting voter suppression efforts that impact the Asian American community along with other communities of color.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.

NAPABA and Fred T. Korematsu Institute Form Pioneering Affiliation to Champion Civil Rights, Combat Anti-Asian Bias, and Promote Civic Empowerment

For Immediate Release: 
Date: August 24, 2023 
NAPABA Contact:
Priya Purandare, Executive Director
Fred T. Korematsu Institute Contact:
Michelle Mitchell, Communications Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, a 501(c)(3) national civil rights education organization based in San Francisco, announced a historic, groundbreaking affiliation formalizing their organizations’ longstanding relationship based on a shared interest in promoting civic participation, racial equity, and civil rights. The affiliation will strengthen the missions of both institutions by increasing resources and understanding and combating anti-Asian discrimination and bias through education and advocacy.

The Korematsu Institute was founded on the legacy of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American who, in 1942, refused to comply with the World War II Executive Order to forcibly remove and incarcerate American Citizens of Japanese descent in prison camps. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court. In an infamous decision that joins the ranks of Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled against him, holding that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity. After discovering that the government had withheld evidence and that the Solicitor General lied to the Court, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1983 through a writ of Coram Nobis. In 1998, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor, for his steadfast advocacy.

“My father’s decades-long fight against injustice in the face of discrimination was not only a legal and constitutional achievement, but a story of individual humanity that resonates with so many in this country,” said Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and President of the Korematsu Institute. “While law schools teach my father’s case to dissect legal principles, we cannot forget what he and so many other incarcerated Japanese Americans experienced on a human level during that dark period in our nation’s history.”

Founded in 1989, NAPABA is the nation’s largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of 60,000 attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Without question, its values align with the spirit of Fred Korematsu’s advocacy and the Institute’s commitment to equality.

“Fred Korematsu’s case, and that of fellow Japanese American detainees such as Minoru Yasui, Gordon Hirabayashi and those of Fred Oyama and Sei Fujii, who challenged alien land laws after their properties were illegally seized, are not just historical precedents — they are the legal framework we use to fight discrimination against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders,” said Sandra Leung, President of NAPABA. “It is important for all Americans to understand the leading role that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have played in shaping the civil rights jurisprudence of this nation.”

“Fred Korematsu’s journey, now more than ever, is a seminal, timeless story — especially at a time in our nation and in the world marked by growing ignorance and intolerance, fueled by advances in technology and the swiftness of disinformation,” said Peggy Saika, Board Chair of the Korematsu Institute. “We are confident that between the Institute’s long-standing care of his legacy and NAPABA’s reach in the legal community, we will safeguard the opportunity to continue learning the lessons of Fred Korematsu’s strength for generations to come.”

“This affiliation will amplify the impact of both NAPABA and the Korematsu Institute,” said Priya Purandare, Executive Director of NAPABA and the Korematsu Institute. “With the Institute’s expertise and K-12 educational and public resources, we can collectively bring the stories of Fred Korematsu and other AANHPI civil rights legal icons to inspire future generations of Americans.”

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.

The Fred T. Korematsu Institute, named after Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Fred Korematsu, is a national education advocacy organization committed to promoting civic participation and education to advance racial equity, social justice, and human rights for all. Through its educational programs, media and exhibits, and speaking engagements, the Korematsu Institute inspires people and organizations to, as Fred said, “stand up for what is right.”

NAPABA | In-House Counsel Summit & Partners Summit Wrap-Up

Reflecting on Days of Connecting and Learning

We are thrilled to announce the successful conclusion of the NAPABA In-House Counsel (IHC) Summit and the landmark inaugural Partners Summit. These events have not only marked memorable milestones but have also underscored the power of collaboration, conversation, and shared purpose within our vibrant community.

As detailed in A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0: Identity and Action in Challenging Times, we know that though the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community has seen progress in some areas, underrepresentation of our community in the top ranks of the legal profession persists. Both summits served as a space for us to connect, collaborate, and encourage each other to continue to chart the path forward and advance to positions of leadership and influence within the legal profession and beyond.

In-House Counsel Summit Highlights

The NAPABA In-House Counsel Summit brought together legal luminaries, thought leaders, and in-house counsel from diverse backgrounds. Engaging discussions, insightful panels, and immersive workshops explored crucial topics facing in-house legal professionals today and offered key skills to elevate individuals to the C-Suite at Fortune 500 companies. As outlined in NAPABA’s 50×25 Pipeline initiative this program continues to curate, cultivate, and promote a robust pipeline of senior AANHPI IHC.

Partners Summit Highlights

The Partners Summit marked the beginning of a new era of partnerships and collaboration. We were honored to convene with our valued members, and speakers who were instrumental in propelling our shared vision forward. The rich exchange of ideas and collective commitment to our mission were palpable throughout the summit.

IHC and Partners Summits Joint Dinner + Panel

For the first time, NAPABA hosted a joint dinner with Partners Summit and IHC Summit participants. This dinner provided a unique platform for networking and fostering meaningful connections. The panel of industry experts discussed how to leverage law connections and getting a seat at the table. This event not only strengthened professional relationships but also facilitated the sharing of expertise, enhancing participants’ ability to navigate complex legal challenges effectively.

As we look to the future, we are invigorated by the energy and enthusiasm generated during these summits. We look forward to utilizing the insights and learnings to drive impactful change and develop the pipeline of senior AANHPI attorneys.

AABANY Celebrates 2023 Annual Dinner with 900+ Attendees at Cipriani Wall Street

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, AABANY hosted its 2023 Annual Dinner with the theme “Embracing Wellness and Well-Being: Strengthening the Legal Profession by Investing in Ourselves” at Cipriani Wall Street. Celebrating AABANY’s 34th anniversary, this was our first Annual Dinner during Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Month! The dinner attracted over 900 attorneys, judges, prosecutors, in-house counsel, government officials, and dignitaries and sponsorships from more than 50 law firms and corporations. 

The event commenced with the Pre-Dinner General Counsel Reception, a gathering of GCs from companies representing a wide variety of industries, including biotechnology research, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion, financial services, insurance, internet privacy and security, medical, real estate, and more.

Attendance at the reception was exclusive to sponsors and invited guests, with a successful turnout of more than 55 GC attendees. We thank our Reception sponsor, Kirkland & Ellis, for helping us kick off the night with this well-attended program. For the full list of general counsels who accepted AABANY’s invitation, please click here.

AABANY was proud to honor:

  • Michael Wu, Chief Legal Officer, Bath & Body Works, Inc. with AABANY’s Corporate Leadership Award 
  • Prisca Bae, Chief Partnerships Officer, The Asian American Foundation with AABANY’s Women’s Leadership Award
  • Hon. Charles Ellis Schumer, U.S. Senator of New York with AABANY’s Impact Leadership Award

AABANY Corporate Leadership Award honoree Michael Wu delivered a powerful speech on the importance of resilience. He shared the inspiring story of his mother, a Hong Kong orphan and homeless refugee who overcame adversity to achieve the American dream. If she could do it, Michael declared, then “anyone in America can become a success.”  

Prisca Bae, AABANY’s Women’s Leadership Award honoree, shared her initiatives aimed to uplift our AANHPI community. She emphasized the importance of collective improvement, motivating the audience to “[aspire] to be better” and to “aim to [become] CEOs.” Her heartfelt sentiments served not only as a beacon of encouragement, hope and optimism but also an affirmation of the possibility that our aspirations are attainable.

We were joined by New York Senator Charles Ellis Schumer, AABANY’s Impact Leadership Award recipient, who delivered remarks on the strength of the AANHPI community as we “[embody] what the American dream has always been about, coming to this country, working hard building a better life for yourself and your children.” His speech resonated with those who are paving the way for our families and fellow community members. We thank Senator Schumer for his continuous efforts in providing opportunities and resources for the AANHPI community so we can keep pursuing the American dream.

This year, we had the privilege of having Kate Siahaan-Rigg, a remarkable actress, comedian, and activist, as our Master of Ceremonies (MC). She was our MC during our 2022 Annual Dinner, and we were delighted to have her host this year’s event. To read a post-Annual Dinner letter from our MC, read the blog post here

We were proud to honor Debevoise & Plimpton with the Law Firm Diversity Award for its commitment to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. To read more about the award, read the press release here.

In addition, we presented the 2023 class of Don H. Liu Scholars: Samuel S. Kim, Kristie-Valerie Hoang, and Emily Yan. Read more about the program here

We extend our sincere gratitude to all those who contributed to our cause and helped us raise more than $20,000 for AABANY-AALFNY’s Turn the Tide (T3) Project to fight anti-Asian hate and violence. Special thanks to MC Kate Siahaan-Rigg for her unwavering humor and compassion in helping us reach our fundraising goal. We also acknowledge the survivors of anti-Asian hate and violence for sharing their stories in the AABANY Anti-Asian Violence Task Force’s “Voices Against Anti-Asian Hate” video, produced by Peter Chin. We were privileged to host survivors of anti-Asian violence, their families and friends at the Annual Dinner.

We thank all of the AABANY 2023 Annual Dinner Planning Committee members and volunteers for their hard work in making this year’s celebration a huge success. Thanks to President Karen Kim for her leadership of the 2023 Annual Dinner Planning Committee which started during her year as President-Elect in the prior fiscal year. In support of AABANY’s theme, Karen announced AABANY’s inaugural Wellness Day, to take place in July, during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

We gratefully acknowledge all our sponsors, whose generous contributions allow us to actively pursue our mission of advancing the interests of the AANHPI legal community, as well as the communities we serve. A special thank you to our premier sponsors: After-Party: Morrow Sodali; Diamond: Broadridge; Pre-Dinner GC Reception: Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Platinum: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Groombridge, Wu, Baughman & Stone LLP, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Levine Lee LLP, Littler Mendelson P.C., Mayer Brown LLP, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Through their support, our sponsors continue to sustain AABANY’s many activities and signature events held throughout the year.

Lastly, we thank everyone who attended the 2023 Annual Dinner and for helping make it a memorable and momentous celebration. Please save the date for the 2024 Annual Dinner: it will take place on May 22 at Cipriani Wall Street! For now, look back at these photos to reminisce, captured by Karen Zhou and Victor Suwatcharapinun. Videos from the 2023 Annual Dinner can be viewed on the event’s webpage here.

AABANY Student Outreach Committee Presents: Students Meet Firms- Groombridge, Wu

On July 11th, 2023, AABANY’s Students Outreach Committee organized a Students Meet Firms event, connecting law students with attorneys from Groombridge, Wu, Baughman & Stone. (Groombridge, Wu) The panelists included Josephine Young, Partner at Groombridge, Wu; Karen King, Partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello PC; Ben Hsu, Associate at Groombridge, Wu; and Chih-Wei Wu, Associate at Groombridge, Wu. Serving as the moderator was Jennifer Wu, Partner at the firm and Co-Chair of AABANY’s Women’s Committee. The event took place at the Groombridge, Wu office located in New York City and online via Zoom.

The setting was intimate and informal, with Jennifer fielding questions from attendees, which included sharing personal stories and discussing the significance of being assertive in the legal profession. Jennifer emphasized learning to recognize your own voice and not allow others to walk over you. The conversation also delved into topics such as workplace racism, the advantages and disadvantages of owning a firm versus working for one, the training process, the life of an associate, and the value of learning from mistakes.

One notable piece of advice from Jennifer was to seek out a firm that allows for mistakes and provides opportunities for growth through learning from them. The attendees shared insightful questions, such as when does making mistakes become unacceptable, the experiences of being an Asian American woman while climbing the corporate ladder and making partnership, and the pros and cons of practicing law in a post-COVID world.

Overall, the panel provided comprehensive responses to a range of attendee questions, spanning from the experiences of litigation lawyers to insights into achieving partnership status at a major law firm or running one’s own.

Thank you to our speakers for sharing their insights and to the Student Outreach Committee for organizing this wonderful and informative event. To read more about other Students Meet Firms events, including Cleary Gottlieb and Kirkland & Ellis, click on the links to the blog posts. To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee, please click here.

Allen & Overy Presents AABANY Trial Reenactment: Oyama v. State of California

On May 24, AABANY and Allen & Overy (A&O) presented a reenactment of the historic case Oyama v. State of California, in commemoration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This landmark case was reenacted by attorneys and law students to tell a captivating story involving AAPI litigants on an important constitutional case known to very few but which has resonance to the present day.

As described on the AABANY Trial Reenactments website:

Inspired by Prof. Rose Cuison Villazor’s law review article, “Rediscovering Oyama v. California: At the Intersection of Property, Race, and Citizenship,” 87 Wash. U. L. Rev. 979 (2010), the reenactment dealt with the California Alien Land Law which prevented “aliens ineligible from citizenship” – i.e., Japanese – from owning land. The case explored the ways in which denial of property rights also served to promote racial discrimination against the Japanese in California. In the case, Kajiro Oyama, a Japanese immigrant who was ineligible for United States citizenship at the time, bought a parcel of farmland which he deeded to his minor son Fred, who was born in the United States and was thus a citizen. Under the Alien Land Laws, this transaction was deemed a fraud and the State of California brought suit against Fred Oyama to escheat the property. The case went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, where the statute’s constitutionality was placed before the Court for its review.

The in-person reenactment was followed by a lively panel discussion co-sponsored by A&O’s U.S. Asian Affinity Network. The discussion was led by A&O Partner John Hwang and Associate Rachel Lee and featuring guest speakers Professor Rose Cuison-Villazor and Shenyang Wu. As the Interim Co-Dean at Rutgers Law School, Professor Cuison-Villazor shared details of her personal discussion with the Oyama family in 2010 for her paper. Shenyang, a partner at Alpha Law NY PLLC and a co-founder of the Chinese American Legal Defense Alliance (CALDA), reinforced that sentiments from legislation like the Alien Land Act of 1913 are still alive by noting Texas lawmakers’ recent decision to restrict Chinese foreign nationals’ land ownership.

A particularly poignant moment during the panel occurred when John Hwang conducted an informal survey of the number of lawyers who had heard of the Oyama v. California case prior to the reenactment. In a room of more than 50 attorneys and law students, less than 5 people raised their hands. This demonstrates how much more work needs to be done for AAPI and the law in legal education and highlights the importance of reenactments like this. The significance of the case for the AAPI community extends beyond issues of immigration, residency, and land ownership. It symbolizes the power of every voice that deserves to be heard and every story that needs to be told.

We thank Allen & Overy and all of the participants in the reenactment for giving their time to raise awareness of the Oyama family’s legacy. For more information about AABANY’s trial reenactment project, visit https://reenactments.aabany.org/.  

NAPABA Prospective Partners Program (PPP) | Application Now OPEN!

Now Accepting Applications!

Application Deadline: Friday, August 18 at 8:00 pm ET

The NAPABA Prospective Partners Program (PPP) application is now open! If you are a senior associate or of counsel at a major law firm who is approaching consideration for partnership, the PPP is designed for you. The PPP aims to increase the number of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander partners at major law firms through introduction, mentorship, and relationship building. Sessions will take place at the 2023 NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 9-12.

Prospective partners will receive mentorship and guidance on their career development and connect with senior in-house counsel where they will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and the services of their firms.

Additionally, prospective partners will be paired with a partner mentor from a different law firm who will provide feedback and guidance on the prospective partner’s introduction presentation and career development.

The deadline to apply for this program is 8:00 pm ET on Friday, August 18.

AABANY Files Comments in Response to the March 24, 2023 Public Briefing on the Federal Response to Anti-Asian Racism in the United States

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) submitted a letter on April 24, 2023 to the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) expressing concern about the ongoing issue of anti-Asian hate and violence in the United States, particularly in New York. In the letter, we highlighted the increase in incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined the efforts of AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) in addressing these issues, including hosting webinars, publishing reports, advocating for legislative changes, and providing resources to support victims. While we appreciate the USCCR for drawing attention to anti-Asian crimes, we believe that there is much more work to be done. AABANY presented three recommendations to combat anti-Asian hate crimes: improved hate crime data reporting, recognition of the community as a victim and investigative partner, and appropriate training for prosecutors and law enforcement. We emphasized the importance of collaboration between the government, law enforcement, and community organizations to ensure the safety of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community.

To read AABANY’s public comment in its entirety, please click here. AABANY gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Chris Kwok, Issues Committee Chair, and AABANY Student Leaders Jinny Lim, J.D. candidate, Seton Hall Law School ‘24, and Catherine Tran, J.D. Candidate, Columbia Law School ‘25, in preparing this submission.

AABANY and Asia Society Co-Host Special Screening of “Dear Corky” on May 31, 2023

On May 31, in honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders month (AANHPI), AABANY and the Asia Society came together to co-host a special screening of Dear Corky, a short documentary film that captures the late New York photographer Corky Lee’s documentation of New York City’s Chinatown, in his hometown, and Asian American communities across the nation. 

The film tells the inspiring story of Corky, the man behind the camera, who spent over fifty years capturing over a hundred thousand photographs. His life’s mission was dedicated to achieving photographic justice. Starting from his college days, Lee began photographing Chinatowns, and driven by his deep sense of social justice, he captured images of activists, everyday heroes, and celebrities with equal passion. After the passing of his wife in 2001, Corky found comfort in his photographs, as they became his safe haven. He shared that he felt less lonely because he felt connected to the people in his photographs. Corky passed in early 2021 after being hospitalized for COVID-19. He had been out in the community documenting anti-Asian hate and violence during the onset of the pandemic.

Following the screening, Chris Kwok, Chair of AABANY’s Issues Committee, moderated a conversation with the film director Curtis Chin, Virgo Lee, advisor to the Estate of Corky Lee, and Mae Ngai, Asian American Studies Lung Family professor and history professor at Columbia University. 

The panelists shared their fond memories of Corky Lee. They highlighted not only the joy brought to their lives but also the recognition of how impactful he was to the Asian American community. Corky Lee’s photography served as a spotlight and voice of the experiences, struggles, and accomplishments of various communities and movements across the country. His selflessness and passion in his work served as an inspiration to many.

Prof. Ngai also shared a special report on the forthcoming book, Corky Lee’s Asian America, from Penguin Random House. The book will provide a deeper dive into decades of Corky’s activism expressed through his photojournalism. It is now available for pre-order and set to release on February 20, 2024.

AABANY thanks everyone for attending this event as a fitting conclusion of AANHPI Heritage Month. It was truly heartwarming to witness how supported and beloved Corky Lee was.

To view post-screening discussion, please click here for the full video.