Media Room

May 3, 2016

Good afternoon. I appreciate you being here today to recognize May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

In Oregon, we benefit from having more than 50 Asian and Pacific Islander cultural groups – made up of about 230,000 people – who call Oregon home. 

However, despite the many contributions by generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders to Oregon’s economy, they still face significant disparities. This is particularly evident in education and health outcomes. That’s why I’m committed to improving our systems so that each Oregonian has an opportunity to thrive.

During the 2016 session I was pleased to sign House Bill 4071, which provides financial assistance with health care premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for Pacific Islanders residing in Oregon under the Compact of Free Association.

This session we also honored one of Oregon’s heroes.

The Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 4009, permanently designating March 28 as Minoru Yasui Day, in honor of the Japanese American lawyer and civil rights activist from Hood River. In 1942, Minoru deliberately violated curfews imposed on Japanese Americans and demanded to be arrested as he challenged President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.

I’m struck by Minoru’s courage to take a stand against discrimination and fight for freedom, which cost him dearly. He was wrongfully incarcerated and his criminal record followed him around like a dark cloud throughout his career.

In recognition for his bravery and values, President Obama posthumously awarded Minoru the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. This recognition serves as a powerful reminder, particularly for young Oregonians, of the importance of standing up for what you believe in and working continuously to end discrimination in Oregon.

Now I will 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 Pacific Americans to our society and collective history.

NOW, THEREFORE: I, Kate Brown, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim May 2016 to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in Oregon and encourage all Oregonians to join in this observance.