Assemblymembers Niou, Kim & Electeds Host 2018 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration & Advocacy Day

Albany, NY – Yesterday, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and Assemblymember Ron Kim, Co-Chairs of the Asian Pacific American Legislative Task Force, hosted the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration & Advocacy Day in the New York State Capitol. They were joined by dozens of community members and advocates, members of the FDNY Phoenix Society, the NYPD Jade Society, and other supporting groups to celebrate the achievements of New York’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The event also served as an occasion to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander firefighters, law enforcement officers and first responders, who were represented by the Phoenix Society and Jade Society members in attendance. Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou introduced the visiting first responders on the Assembly floor (speech can be found here), and also spoke on the Asian American and Pacific Islander resolution (speech can be found here). Assemblymember Ron Kim officially introduced the annual Legislative Resolution commemorating May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (speech can be found here). Other participants included representatives from the Chinese-American Planning Council, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Asian Americans for Equality, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, as well as AARP and AT&T — the event sponsors.

Highlights of the day included a traditional Korean Drum Performance and a sampling of Korean cuisine. In addition, the Asian Pacific American advocacy groups in attendance met with lawmakers to advocate for legislation and issues that most directly impact their communities.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to introduce the members of the FDNY Phoenix Society and the NYPD Jade Society on the Assembly floor. This was the first time in the history of our state that these individuals were recognized in an official capacity by the Assembly,” said Assemblymember Niou. “These individuals serve our communities every single day, and they deserve to be recognized for their work. Our community is proud to have growing numbers of Asian American and Pacific Islander first responders and law enforcement officers in New York. More Asian American and Pacific Islander firefighters, police officers and medical technicians means that members of the community are more likely to be able to communicate with first responders in their own language and who understand their culture. This can make all the difference during times of need.

“In addition to honoring our first responders and celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we were also able to use today as a platform to advocate for the diverse needs of our state’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, and despite our rapid growth, we still do not have nearly enough influence over policies that affect us. It is critical that we continue to fight to have our voices heard so that we can have more of a say when it comes to policies that impact our communities.”

Assemblymember Ron Kim said: “When I joined the Assembly, I was the only Asian American in the entire state legislature. I never imagined that just a few years later, Assemblymember Niou and I would be co-hosting an APA Heritage event as founders of the Asian Pacific American Legislative Task Force. Representation matters — for those in and out of the public spotlight. Today we are honoring men and women from our communities who represent the best of New York, serving their state as dedicated civil servants for the NYPD and FDNY. We are joined by advocacy groups and community leaders from across our state, who are here not only to celebrate the extraordinary impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had on our country, but to continue to advocate for issues that define our communities. I thank all of our attendees and sponsors for their support and hard work in making today possible.”

"Sunset Park is home to one of our greatest Asian American communities. I am honored to be able to represent this diverse community and to work with residents to strengthen our schools, businesses and community activities,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “We must also remain vigilant to protect everyone from unjust federal immigration policies that can threaten our progress."

“As a founding member of the Asian Pacific American Task Force and as the representative of one of the largest Asian-American populations in the State; I am honored to welcome the community leaders, advocates, first responders, and other members of the Asian and Pacific Islander community in Albany today,” said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. “Diversity is New York’s greatest strength and I am grateful to the Co-Chairs of the Asian Pacific American Task Force, Assemblymember Ron Kim and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, for their work to showcase the many accomplishments and contributions of New York’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration & Advocacy Day.”

Assemblymember AravelIa Simotas said “I was proud to join with my colleagues and so many passionate, effective advocates to celebrate the innumerable contributions of New Yorkers of Asian and Pacific Island descent. We must follow your example and continue the fight for true equality and recognition for all.”

Assemblymember William Colton (Bensonhurst, Gravesend), who is a member of the New York State Assembly Asian Pacific American Task Force, said: " the contribution of the Asian and Pacific American community to the building of the United States of America dates back centuries and continues to this day. As May is Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month I would like to recognize the role that this community plays in shaping our democracy and bettering our society."

Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried said: "New York is enriched by its diverse citizenry, and the Asian Pacific Heritage Month Celebration in Albany is a celebration of the community’s enormous contributions to our civic and cultural life.”

“America is made up of immigrants. We must celebrate each culture’s differences so that future generations can remember how our nation was built,” said Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso.

“It was my privilege to have the FDNY Phoenix Society and NYPD Jade society up in Albany to celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month. As Chair of the Government Employees Committee and member of the APA Task Force, I am glad that these heroic men and women were honored on the floor of the Assembly for their service and sacrifice to our City,” said Assemblyman Peter Abbate. “It was so great to stand with them to show the face of Asian American’s in New York and that they are integral part of our society. By inviting these and other groups up, it’s a great way to shine a spotlight onto the Asian American and Pacific Islander culture and a way to celebrate their impact on our communities.”

Assemblyman Mike Miller said: “As a member of the Asian Pacific American Legislative Task Force, it was a pleasure having community leaders and activists in Albany for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Celebration and Advocacy Day. I was able to speak to members of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families and discussed their needs in my district.”

“AAPIs are our country’s fastest growing constituency and it’s important to highlight AAPI subgroups, their culture, and history. I stand with Assemblymember Niou in continuing fighting for the rights of AAPIs in New York State,” said Assemblymember Brian Barnwell.

FDNY Phoenix Society President, David Lin said: “Our Association’s objective is to be united in the effort of promoting the interest and welfare of New York City Fire Department’s personnel who are Asian, Asian-American or those of Asian descent. Our society also seeks to enhance the relationship between the Asian community and FDNY by networking amongst those interested in professional and personal development, while emphasizing the preservation of Asian American identity. The society provides resources and guidance that inspires, empowers, develop and support professionalism within FDNY to become community-oriented leaders. Our most recent example of this is our Mandarin class at Flushing High School, where our members come each week to learn one of the languages in the Asian community and learn more about Asian culture. The class is sponsored by the FDNY Foundation, it’s in its third year, and we’re very pleased with its success. Our society believes it's important to share our culture with the Department and welcome the Asian community into the Department. We’re involved in the Asian community in many ways including Fire Safety Education, Recruitment, FDNY Block Parties and other related events. Today's celebration is part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen the Department's partnership with the Asian community.”

Eugene Canapi, President, NYPD Asian Jade Society, Inc. said: “It is with great pride and honor to have the NYPD Asian Jade Society recognized by Assembly members Yuh-Line Niou and Ron Kim in the NYS Assembly Chamber in front of their peers during session. We as an organization feel it’s important to know that the community we serve appreciates the work and effort that each and every member strives to achieve on a daily basis. The Society is the epitome of diversity with a grass roots focus on community interaction and collaboration. We want and need your help to continue to change the face of the NYPD, to ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion and fairness is at the forefront of the Department’s policy.”

"Asian Pacific Americans (APA) in New York State are the fastest growing population group and also incredibly diverse, with a wide variety of ethnicities, cultures, religions, and languages. Contrary to the myth of the model minority, our communities face many hardships that unfortunately remain misunderstood or hidden, including high rates of poverty and limited English proficiency,” said Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Director, and Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “CACF is proud to commemorate our diverse communities during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in New York State, alongside Assemblymembers Yuh-Line Niou and Ron Kim and our community organization partners. We call on our State leaders to support the collecting of representative and disaggregated data that sheds light on the unique needs associated with different APA ethnic groups. This is a critical step in responding to the growing language, health, and social service needs of the APA community."

Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer at Chinese-American Planning Council said: “It is always important that our communities are represented in policy and budget, but during APA heritage month, it is especially important that we come together with one voice to call for that representation. We are grateful to our partners and our champions in the NYS assembly for their efforts to ensure that AAPIs are fairly included and represented.”

"We were honored to join the many APA community members and organizations today to celebrate our shared histories and pay tribute to our community's outstanding leaders," said Doris Koo, Interim Executive Director at Asian Americans for Equality. "And with so many powerful voices together, it was a great opportunity to fight for the collective issues that matter most to us at our state's capital. Assemblymembers Niou and Kim epitomize the ideals of public service and we thank them for organizing this wonderful tribute for all APA New Yorkers."

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are one of the fastest growing racial groups in America. They are also historically medically underserved and face multiple social barriers to health care,” said Anna Xing, Special Projects Coordinator at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, Inc. “Initiatives like APA Heritage Month provide prime opportunities to increase APA visibility, and highlight the importance of linguistic and cultural sensitivities in promoting health equity.

AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said: “AARP New York is proud to sponsor this Asian American Heritage Month celebration and to stand with Assembly Members Kim and Niou, the NYPD, FDNY and others in support of improving life for Asian American New Yorkers. AARP looks forward to continue working with Assembly Members Kim and Niou and their colleagues on eliminating the disparities that have historically disadvantaged Asian American New Yorkers. We are committed to improving access to health care, increasing supports to help Asian American caregivers help their loved ones age at home, narrowing gaps in retirement income, protecting homeowners while preserving and creating affordable housing, helping promote and ease access to nutrition assistance, increasing access to banking, and making communities liveable for people of all ages with safe streets and access to transit.”

“It’s an honor to support this celebration today and I applaud Assemblymembers Kim and Niou for their tireless work advocating for the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders of New York. AT&T also salutes the brave members of the FDNY and NYPD deservingly honored today,” said Amy Kramer, Associate Vice President of External Affairs, AT&T. “AT&T is committed to supporting organizations that strengthen the Asian American community and is proud to have contributed more than $31 million over the past 5 years to programs and projects focused on addressing Asian American and Pacific Islander issues.”