Florida – May 30, 2010

          More than 300 Asian American community leaders across Florida attended the reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee on May 24, 2010 to celebrate the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  

          In 1978, Congress passed a joined Congressional Resolution to commemorate Asian American Heritage Week during the first week of May, in recognition of two important events:  the arrival of the first Japanese Immigrants in America on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad (by many Chinese laborers) on May 10, 1869. In 1990 Congress voted to expand it from a week to a month long celebration and in May 1992, the month of May was permanently designated as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”

                This is the second year that Governor Charlie Crist has hosted a reception to recognize the contributions that Asian Pacific Americans have made to the country, and especially to the State of Florida.  

                 “He was the first Governor in Florida to have issued a proclamation recognizing the contribution of Asian Pacific Americans,  and joining the community in its celebration of  Asian Pacific Heritage Month”, says Clyde Diao, Deputy Policy Coordinator for the Florida’s Finance and Economic Analysis Policy Unit.  “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have shared common struggles throughout their histories in America -- including efforts to overcome racial, social, and religious discrimination. Through perseverance and hard work, they have achieved success and prospered as leaders in business, academia, and public service.”

                 Diao also serves as Chairman of the Asian Coalition of Tallahassee (ACT), an umbrella organization of about 15 associations and groups that aims to unite the Asian communities in the Tallahassee area for promoting and sharing the rich Asian culture and heritage with the citizens of Tallahassee through community involvement and cultural events.

                 “Asian Pacific Americans are ethnically diverse, but through our entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as our love of family and community, we  have enriched our nation,” adds Thayumanasamy Somasundaram, President of the India Association of Tallahassee.  “We are certainly honored by the Governor’s recognition of our contribution to American society.”

                 As a token of appreciation, Dr. Joy Bruce,  President of the Asian American Federation of Florida, presented the Governor with a framed Census 2010 Poster , showing portraits of local Asian leaders that make up  the “new face” of Florida. The poster was signed by officers and members of the Federation that drove from Jacksonville, Orlando, Palm Bay, Miami and other parts of the State to join Governor’s reception.

                 “This is an important year for us,” says Dr. Bruce, “because we are finally joining hands in unity to push for a complete 2010 Census count of Asian Pacific Americans in Florida, that only happens every 10 years.”

                 Asians in Florida, in particular, have received very little support from the government, due to their lack of awareness on how the Census could affect them. During the 2000 Census, only 266,256 Asians were counted throughout the State of Florida.

                “We have a much higher number than that,” adds  Dr. Bruce. “It is important for us to get accurately counted so that the government and mainstream media will be aware of how much we are contributing to society, and what kind of services, resources and programs we need to meet the needs of our community.  We need to cooperate when the Census takers knock on our doors, to make sure that we are counted. ”

                America has had a very successful first half of the 2010 Census, where more than 72 percent of the nation’s households (including Florida) mailed back their census forms.  Still, households that either didn’t mail back their form or didn’t receive one will be followed by door to door visits through July 10, to ensure that no one is missed in the Census.       

                This year  also marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), which was created by President Clinton to improve the quality of life in underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander communities through increased participation in federal programs, and to make sure that the government is successfully working to address disparities in health care, in education, and economic opportunity that exists within various AAPI communities. Last October 2009, President Obama signed an executive order reestablishing the White House Initiative on AAPI.

                Christina Lagdameo, Deputy Director of White House Initiative on AAPI will be meeting with delegates of the Asian American Federation of Florida in Miami on June 7, 2010, to share information about government resources and initiatives to increase AAPI access to educational opportunities and participation in federal programs.


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