NAPABA Supports the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

For Immediate Release:
Date: March 4, 2024 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy 

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) applauds the United States Senate’s reintroduction of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that would restore critical protections of the Voting Rights Act. Especially in a critical election year, Congress must ensure that everyone can fully participate in our democracy. This month, we commemorate the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when, on March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, State Troopers attacked hundreds of unarmed protestors, including the civil rights leader John Lewis, who opposed the systematic oppression of Black voters. It led to the ultimate passage of the Voting Rights Act. As those activists knew then, and as we are reminded today, the right to vote is foundational, and as an organization advancing the interests of the AANHPI community, NAPABA realizes the critical importance for our community to have equal access to the ballot.  

“The endeavor to secure equal voting rights requires constant vigilance,” said Anna Mercado Clark, President of NAPABA. “The life and legacy of John Lewis are a powerful reminder of it. NAPABA is grateful to Senators Durbin, Warnock, Schumer, and the sponsors for reintroducing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. As the Asian American community is the fastest-growing community in the nation, coupled with recent court decisions that have limited the reach of the Voting Rights Act, this bill will go a long way to ensure that our community – and all communities of color – have a fair opportunity to make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

On top of our advocacy, if you wish to learn about ways that you can get involved in your community, connect with our partner APIAVote:


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.

AALDEF Press Release: AALDEF 2013 Justice in Action Awards

February 20, 2013 – Congressman John LewisMember 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. Butterfly David 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 LiuParkin LeeAlice 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 KohMira NairDeval Patrick,George TakeiSalman RushdieSeymour HershCharles Ogletree, Jr.Harry BelafonteMargaret Cho, and Yoko Ono.

Ujala Sehgal
212.966.5932 ex.217
[email protected]


Image Credit: Lia Chang for AALDEF


Image Credit: Corky Lee for AALDEF


Image Credit: Lia Chang for AALDEF


Image Credit: Corky Lee for AALDEF

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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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