Contact:Mary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director
WASHINGTON – Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, a 10-term congressman and the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet, died today at his home in Edgewater, Md., at the age of 90.
“A legend in the Asian American community, Secretary Mineta dedicated his life to public service,” said NAPABA Executive Director Priya Purandare. “Sec. Mineta’s story began during one of the darkest times in American history, Japanese American incarceration. He then went on to become one of the country’s highest profile political leaders, and lived and led with courage, strength, and resilience. Throughout his life and career, he advocated for the civil liberties of Asian Americans, and was a co-founder of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. His lived experience with incarceration informed his fight against the racial profiling of Muslims after the 9/11 attacks because he did not want history to repeat itself. May we and future generations all be inspired by his legacy as we mourn this enormous loss.”
Secretary Mineta served as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in President George W. Bush’s cabinet and as Secretary of Commerce in President Bill Clinton’s cabinet. He was the first Asian American to become mayor of a major U.S. city, San Jose, California. He was also a military veteran, having served as an Army intelligence officer in Korea and Japan. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2006.
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 APA 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 Annual Lobby Day and APA Heritage Month Congressional Reception
NAPABA invites you to participate in the 4th Annual Lobby Day and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Congressional Reception on May 19-20, 2014, in Washington, DC.
Lobby Day is less than a month away! This is your opportunity to educate members of Congress and congressional staffers on issues of importance to the Asian Pacific American community and to meet other NAPABA leaders from around the country.
Lobby Day Event Schedule:
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 Lobby Day Training Webinar (part one of three)
Monday, May 19, 2014 Lobby Day Onsite Training (part two of three) NAPABA’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Congressional Reception with Honorary Chair and Featured Speaker, Senator Mazie Hirono Confirmed speakers also include Congresswoman Grace Meng and Congressman Mark Takano Click here to RSVP for the Reception.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 NAPABA Lobby Day: Onsite Training Breakfast (part three of three) Member Visits, Participant Debriefing & Happy Hour *Breakfast and Happy Hour hosted by Jones Day
February 20, 2013 – Congressman John Lewis, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Georgia), Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American, and Simone Wu of Choice Hotels International, Inc. were honored with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s (AALDEF) 2013 Justice in Action Awards on February 19.
Since 1987, AALDEF has presented the Justice in Action Awards to exceptional individuals for their outstanding achievements and efforts in advancing social justice. The awards were presented by Rep. Grace Meng, the first Asian American to represent New York in Congress, Tony Award-winning playwright of M. ButterflyDavid Henry Hwang, and Gordon Smith, CEO of Consumer and Community Banking, JPMorgan Chase.
Juju Chang, Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ABC News Nightline, and Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at Columbia University, both long time supporters of AALDEF, were the co-emcees for the banquet of over 700. They were joined at the end with a surprise appearance on stage from actor BD Wong, who urged the guests to show their support for AALDEF.
Among the guests at Pier Sixty in New York City were Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Acting New York Supreme Court Justice Debra James, and past Justice in Action Award recipients Don Liu, Parkin Lee, Alice Young, and Sandra Leung.
AALDEF Board president Tommy Shi wished the audience a happy new year and shared the story that, seven days before the 2012 election, with AALDEF’s national poll monitoring and exit poll project at stake, Hurricane Sandy hit New York. AALDEF staff was stranded in outer boroughs and the office was without electricity. “We put out an emergency call for help,” said Shi. “AALDEF staff and volunteers lugged boxes of voting materials down 12 flights of stairs in the dark. We were lucky that Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP donated temporary space with computers and phones for our staff and volunteers. And Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP opened its conference rooms to us. In the end, the Asian American Exit Poll surveyed over 9,000 voters in 14 states on Election Day, the largest multilingual survey of its kind.”
Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director, said that the three Justice in Action Award recipients had taken courageous stands on some of AALDEF’s current priority issues: securing real immigration reform, expanding diversity, and defending the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.
David Henry Hwang introduced honoree Jose Antonio Vargas as having “one of the great immigrant stories of our time.” Vargas, an award-winning Filipino American journalist, publicly revealed himself to be an undocumented immigrant in a 2011 New York Times Magazine article. “Immigrant rights are human rights,” said Vargas, who acknowledged the work of AALDEF and civil rights organizations by joking that the reason he “was still here” was that he was “all lawyered up.”
Honoree Simone Wu, senior vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary, and chief compliance officer of Choice Hotels International, spoke about the need for diversity and inclusiveness. “So many Asian Americans do not get a chance to share in the model minority myth,” said Wu. “At Choice Hotels we value diversity in all our decisions and our results are better as a result of doing that.”
The evening came to a close with Rep. Grace Meng introducing civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis with a surprise video of the Congressman dancing “Gangnam-style” for the right to vote.
“The right to vote is precious, even sacred,” said Congressman Lewis, who, in 1965, led over 600 peaceful protesters in the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation known as “Bloody Sunday,” and the senseless cruelty hastened passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “I gave a little blood for the right to vote. But some of my friends gave their lives. We have made too much progress to stop now.”
Past Justice in Action Award recipients include Fred Korematsu, David Henry Hwang, Fareed Zakaria, BD Wong, Sandra Leung, Harold Koh, Mira Nair, Deval Patrick,George Takei, Salman Rushdie, Seymour Hersh, Charles Ogletree, Jr., Harry Belafonte, Margaret Cho, and Yoko Ono.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.
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