STATE HOUSE – Sen. Linda Ujifusa and Sen. Victoria Gu, the first Asian Americans elected to the Rhode Island state legislature, gathered community leaders from across the state for a celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month at the State House.
“Our strength as a country and a state is our diversity,” said Senator Gu, (D-Dist. 38, Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown) in a statement. “We have such a vibrant Asian American Pacific Islander community in our state and they contribute in so many diverse and meaningful ways. It was an honor to celebrate them today.”
The event recognized several Asian-American organizations from across the state for their service to the community. The groups honored were the Alliance of RI Southeast Asians for Education, the Center for Southeast Asians, the India Association of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Association of Chinese Americans, the Japan-America Society and Black Ships Festival of RI, the Korean-American Association of RI and the Filipino-American Association of Newport County.
The event was emceed by Newport Mayor Xaykham Khamsyvoravong, who is Lao-American, and the first Asian American mayor of that city. There were also performances by Jade Ma, a Lincoln School student, who sang the national anthem; Junghee Oh-Kayakum, a Korean harp player and Kate Kim, a Korean folk dancer, sponsored by the Korean American Association of RI; and the Brown Lion Dancers, a dance troupe from Brown University.
“Asian-American Rhode Islanders come from a great variety of cultures, languages and traditions,” said Senator Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol) in a statement. “Every one of them could have a month-long event just celebrating their own unique cultures. It is particularly important during times like now, when Asians are being blamed for everything from COVID to an increased threat of nuclear war, that we not let that blame turn into racism and anti-immigrant hate. We need events like this to show we can create a better – more just society – that is enriched, not threatened, by diversity.”