REMARKS AS PREPARED
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Proclamation Signing
May 31, 2017
Thank you for joining me today to recognize May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Asian and Pacific Islanders are the second-fastest growing population in Oregon and the fastest growing group in America.
We are enriched every day by Asian and Pacific Islanders’ contributions to our culture and economy.
From the beginning, Oregon has benefitted from the dedication and determination of Asian and Pacific Islanders. From building the Transcontinental Railroad, sending young men and women to defend our freedoms, to creating innovations in education, the arts, and healthcare, Asian and Pacific Islanders are integral to the prosperity of our state.
These achievements did not come easily. Asian and Pacific Islanders persevered despite blatant discrimination and inhumane treatment. Until 1943, they were excluded from citizenship and prevented from marrying freely. During World War II, innocent Japanese Americans were incarcerated by the thousands, with no criminal charges against them.
George Nakata, who is here with us today, is a survivor of Japanese internment. He was 9 years old when his family was forced to leave their home in Portland and live a subhuman life in the Minidoka internment camp. Imagine being told, as a 9-year-old, that your government considers you a threat to the nation. Solely because of who your ancestors are.
Yet Mr. Nakata, as an adult, joined the army and defended his country. He started a consulting business and helped bring Asian investments into Portland. And he tells his important story near and far, reminding all of us that “freedom is fragile.” It is imperative that we protect it.
Even though we have made much progress, Asian and Pacific Islanders face disparities in health outcomes and education benchmarks. Inequity and injustices continue in the lives of Oregonians, and we must work together to correct these errors.
So as I stand before you today, I vow to stay vigilant. I vow to keep Oregon a safe place for all. And I vow to fight for a more equal, prosperous Oregon.
Now, I’ll read the proclamation.
WHEREAS: Asian and Pacific Americans have lived and worked in Oregon for more than 200 years, contributing to the state’s rich history, economy and culture; and
WHEREAS: Asian and Pacific Americans have helped advance Oregon’s prosperity through their contributions to all fields of education, business, the arts, economic development, science, and technology; and
WHEREAS: Asian and Pacific American history in Oregon is marked by a struggle for freedom, equality and justice, prevailing over the adversity of exclusion, persecution, incarceration and disparities; and
WHEREAS: Asian and Pacific Americans are working to achieve full participation in the social, economic, and political decisions that affect their families, building stronger alliances across all communities in Oregon; and
WHEREAS: The vibrant history and diverse cultures of Oregon’s Asian and Pacific Americans are here to be honored as a central part of our state’s story and shared with all Oregonians; and
WHEREAS: The month of May is nationally recognized as a time to celebrate contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans to our society and collective history.
NOW, THEREFORE: I, Kate Brown, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim May 2017 to be ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH.