The Asian American Commission (AAC) of Massachusetts hosted its annual Unity Dinner on May 26 at Boston University.
The “Honoring changes agents: Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) history, progress and achievement” dinner recognized notable community leaders.
Fernande “Nan” Duffly, retired Mass. Supreme Court judge, talked about her Dutch father and Indonesian Chinese mother coming to America in the 1950s. “To say I am an Asian American evokes many cultures and countries in Asia, southeast Asia, the Pacific and elsewhere, which our families called home before arriving in America,” Duffly said. “In 1990, May was chosen as Asian Pacific American Heritage month, not only to celebrate the many contributions Asian Americans have made to this country, but to recall the shared barriers to immigration and the extraordinary hardships these disparate groups faced once they arrived as railroad workers, farmworkers, restaurant, laundry and garment industry workers.”
Franklin Odo, Asian American studies visiting professor at Amherst College, spoke about his Japanese-American experience and the legacy of the Japanese internment.
The Commission presented the Community Hero Award to Boa Newgate, leader manager for the Mental Health Cultural Case Management program at the Southeast Asian Coalition. Eastern Bank received the Leadership and Diversity Award. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Mary Chin, board member of the Asian American Civic Association. The recipients received framed photographs by artist Eaden Huang.
In 2016, the AAC provided financial literacy training for Asian women immigrants, small business workshops, health discussions with experts and a mental health forum focusing on suicide prevention in the AAPI community.
The Commission has 21 commissioners, appointed by the governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, senate president, house speaker and attorney general. Massachusetts residents may apply to become a commissioner from August 1 to Sept. 16. For more information about the AAC, visit www.aacommission.org.
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