#AAPIatDNC: Reflections from the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Guest Post by the DNCC AAPI Media Center Team

Jason Tengco, AAPI Outreach Director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, takes a selfie at the AAPI caucus at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention was one of the most diverse and inclusive yet. And while Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are often overlooked by mainstream audiences, this time we were seen and heard--even on the main stage. The 2016 Democratic Party Platform mentions Filipino American labor leader Larry Itliong in its preamble, in the same paragraph as Cesar Chavez. This is the first time any Asian American has been acknowledged in a major party platform.

Behind the scenes, it was the first time the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) organized an AAPI Media Center, where we had teams to pitch media, interact with AAPI delegates, produce videos, and engage on social media. Here are our AAPI highlights!

The AAPI Caucus kicked off the convention with remarks from AAPI politicians and elected officials and leaders who voiced their support for Hillary Clinton. Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Mike Honda and Rep. Madeleine Bordallo were among the speakers, actress Constance Wu was on a panel talking about the critical need for AAPI representation in all fields.

The second AAPI Caucus convening on Wednesday focused on how we must activate our collective power as AAPIs to increase civic participation in our communities.

APIAVote held a briefing and reception following the caucus on the AAPI electorate and educated convention attendees on how our vote can make a big difference in key states.

On Wednesday night at the main stage, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) spoke, including Rep. Judy Chu, Senator Mazie Hirono and Rep. Bobby Scott. CAPAC was introduced by a video highlighting major moments in the struggle for Asian American civil rights: the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

Members of CAPAC also elaborated on Hillary’s ambitious plan for Asian American and Pacific Islanders, including fixing the family immigration system. "So many families have been kept apart for decades by an incredibly long family visa backlog,” said Chu. “Hillary will fight to clear that backlog so that millions of American families can finally be reunited with their loved ones." Chu also reinforced Hillary’s commitment to choosing a cabinet that looks like America, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

On Thursday, Asian Americans Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Ted Lieu, and Khizr Khan addressed the crowd, the same night Hillary Clinton made history by accepting the presidential nomination. Many ranked Khan’s speech--an emotional plea to vote to honor the death of his son--as one of the highlights of the entire convention.

Finally, it was a solemn time for the AAPI community, as we remembered the recent losses of three leaders in our community: Edward Chow, former Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Rep. Mark Takai of Hawaii; and Joe Montano, Northern Virginia regional director for Sen. Tim Kaine. Joe would have played a vital role with the AAPI Media Center and it would have been his first convention.

As we reflect on the convention and approach 100 days to Election Day, now is our time to do everything we can to get our communities to vote, and vote for the first female president.

To stay updated and find out ways to get involved, go to AAPIForHillary.com. Sign up for volunteer opportunities here!

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