asian americans united celebrates 25 years

Here's a good Philadelphia Inquirer profile from last week on Asian Americans United, one of the more vocal community groups speaking out about the December 4 attacks against Asian students at South Philadelphia High School: Asian American group fights against injustice.

This year, Asian Americans United celebrates its silver anniversary, marking 25 years of community activism. While members insist AAU was only one part of a larger coalition of Asian organizations in the South Philly High action, it was definitely there -- and in charge -- from the start.
In the days after that edgy Dec. 4 news conference at the Chinese Christian Church, Somekawa took pains to say that AAU was only one part of a larger coalition of Asian organizations. But from the start, it was obvious that AAU was in charge, framing the community response, as it had done many times before.

It was AAU that led the massive 2000 protest that opposed construction of a Phillies baseball stadium north of Chinatown and that pushed to build a multicultural charter school on the site. AAU helped organize Chinatown parents to demand better schools, blocked plans for a federal prison in Chinatown, worked to help a young illegal immigrant stay in the United States after she miscarried during a rough, forcible deportation attempt in 2006.

This year, AAU celebrates its silver anniversary, marking 25 years as a tenacious, pugnacious advocate. In its time, AAU has given voice to the voiceless and strength to the weak - and in the process succeeded in antagonizing innumerable politicians and elected leaders.
Asian Americans United has apparently earned itself a reputation as a fierce, outspoken organization against injustice in the community. You know they've made an impact when you've got city councilman Frank DiCicco calling them "one of the most disrespectful groups I've ever had to deal with."

Disrespectful? Maybe. But so is making plans to build a casino in Chinatown without consulting people in the neighborhood. Remember that next time. To learn more about the work Asian Americans United is doing, go here.

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