REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Proclamation
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
I am honored to be here with you to mark May 2019 as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Oregon’s Asian and Pacific Islander heritage is part of the long history of our state, which is enriched by the diversity of cultural traditions from more than 50 individual cultural groups from Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The API community is the fastest growing racial group in America, and second fastest in Oregon. There are over 260,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders in Oregon today, who represent dozens of languages and cultures.
Today is an important moment to recognize not only our longtime communities but also our newcomers. You have made contributions ranging from building connections to the rest of the US with the Transcontinental Railroad, to service with valor in our armed forces, to the fields of agriculture, business, education, health, and technology.
In the context of substantial racial prejudice and discrimination, these contributions are truly monumental.
Chinese workers who built our railroads were excluded from citizenship by law. Japanese and Japanese American Oregonians fought in World War II while their families were retained in what were called internment camps, but were really prisons.
Despite generations of contributions to Oregon’s economy and society, many APIs still experience significant disparities, particularly in health and education. Many face language barriers and access to culturally competent health care, and effective ESL programs.
Today, while many API students distinguish themselves in school, recent statistics show that others are still struggling. In Multnomah County, students in ten out of thirty Asian language groups represented in our schools aren’t meeting state benchmarks.
We can do better, and we can do more. For that, we need our elected officials to reflect the diversity of our communities. Currently there are no Asian Pacific Islanders in the Oregon legislature, which I hope will change in the next election. For now, I’m grateful to have APIs in other offices.
Like Jackie Leung, Salem city councilor and Daniel Nguyen, the first person of color to serve on the Lake Oswego City council.
Leaders Like Susheela Jayapal and Lori Stegmann, commissioners at Multnomah County.
Like Youlee Yim You as a magistrate judge, and Justice Lynn Nakamoto, the first Asian Pacific American to sit on the state’s highest bench.
And we have fantastic organizations representing and advocating for these communities.
The Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific Islanders, APANO, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, and other groups are actively engaging and building a pipeline of emerging Asian and Pacific Islander leaders in Oregon.
Thank you for all that you do. Now, for 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 and the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs 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.
THEREFORE: I, Kate Brown, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim May 2019 to be ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH in Oregon and encourage all Oregonians to join in this observance.