Chinatown celebrates victory in Asian American voting rights

Chinatown community groups celebrated the passing of bilingual ballots in Boston on Aug. 13 at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. (Image courtesy of Ellen Duong)

Chinatown community groups celebrated the passing of bilingual ballots in Boston on Aug. 13 at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. (Image courtesy of Ellen Duong)

BY ELLEN DUONG

On July 15, Gov. Deval Patrick  signed a bill requiring Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots to be made available at polling stations in Boston, thus marking a monumental event in the fight for equality in Asian American voting rights.  A celebration sponsored by the Chinese Progressive Association, the Boston Chinatown Resident Association and the Coalition for Asian American Voting Rights (CAAVR) was held August 13 at the Josiah Quincy School cafeteria to recognize the hard work and efforts of those involved in the push for bilingual ballots in Boston.

Many people braved the rain to celebrate the victory.

“This is the happiest celebration in Chinatown,” said Marie Moy, CRA co-chairwoman . “It took many people, many years, lots of meetings and rallying, the hard work of everybody, but it was an honor to have the governor come to the Metropolitan to sign the bill. This is the happy occasion we’ve all been waiting for.”

Those individuals and organizations that played a significant role in securing the bilingual ballots were recognized at the event. Former Josiah Quincy Elementary principal and CPA founder Suzanne Lee said, “We’ve been fighting for equality and voting rights for over 10 years. This is the first step. [The Constitution] guarantees every citizen the right to vote, but if you can’t read and understand what is written, then that right is denied to you. For immigrant voting equality, this is a happy day.”

Following the speeches from elected officials and city councilors, a proclamation signed by Mayor Marty Walsh stated August 13to be a day to celebrate Asian American voting rights. Guests also reflected on the impact bilingual ballots would have on their lives.

In all, it was a proud day for Asian Americans. “What we have done here together,” remarked Boston City Council member Tito Jackson, “will [allow us to] better ourselves and the people in generations after us. Winning the battle and opening the door of equality, it is the most American thing you can do.”

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