Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago Honors Community Leaders and Entrepreneurs
CHICAGO – Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago (Advancing Justice—Chicago), the largest Asian American advocacy organization in the Midwest, held its annual awards benefit on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The benefit showcased achievements, future plans and goals for how Asian Americans can and should shape the city, not just their community. Along with recognizing advocacy efforts led by Advancing Justice—Chicago, the benefit also highlighted local Asian American business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals who, despite challenges, reached personal milestones in helping advance their communities.
Stories of perseverance and success are a large part of advancing justice. As supporters from all across Chicagoland quickly filled the Cultural Center’s historic Preston Bradley Hall, the sentiment of support quickly turned into activism.
“What does democracy look like?” asked Tuyet Le, executive director of Advancing Justice—Chicago, during her closing speech at Tuesday’s Milestone Awards Benefit.
Within seconds, the crowd responded, “This is what democracy looks like!”
A sense of enthusiastic advocacy permeated throughout the decorated hall, as supporters from various professions shared food and conversation.
“Events like these help mobilize community leaders into taking action,” said Anne Shaw, prospective candidate for Alderman (1st Ward). “The Asian American community in Chicago is still behind politically, largely because we don’t have any Asian Americans elected,” added Shaw.
Shaw represents a growing demographic of working Asian American voters and tax paying citizens, seeking greater representation in a time where cultural diversity is ever expanding. While voter mobilization efforts such as Asian American Action Day (Advancing Justice—Chicago’s annual statewide legislative advocacy day in Springfield, Ill.) strive to change policy and advocate Asian American rights, events like the Milestone Awards Benefit offer an opportunity to recognize those successes, people who made it possible, and other Asian Americans who continue to make a difference across Chicago.
“Growing up Asian American was difficult for me because I didn’t really fit into either side — Asian or white,” said Billy Dec, CEO and founder of Rockit Ranch Productions. “Advocacy organizations like [Advancing Justice—Chicago] provide much needed strength, power and leadership, helping make this cause a much more attainable fight,” added Dec.
Among the notable political figures at the event were Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Senator Daniel Biss and Representative Darlene Sanger. Governor Quinn was adamant in his support of advancing rights for Asian Americans struggling to achieve acceptance and opportunity throughout Chicago and America. Attorney General Madigan also articulated her support.
After an evening of awe inspiring success stories and firsthand accounts of social challenges, Executive Director Tuyet Le brought it home.
“It’s something to be proud of, to have someone with a voice in office representing us,” said Le. “We will win the fight for those in need of democracy. We are democracy, we are Illinois, we are advancing justice,” emphasized Le. Overall, the event raised nearly $100,000 with over $6,000 onsite, in large part from an effort to support sending youth to Springfield for Asian American Action Day.
Advancing Justice—Chicago is scheduled for their third annual Asian American Action Day on May 15, 2014. For more information on how you can become active, go to www.advancingjustice-chicago.org.