#AAPIMovement: The AAPI Weekend of the Year

As the fastest growing racial group in the country, and an increasingly important voting bloc, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community cannot be ignored.

This past weekend, on September 7-8, 2019, AAPI Progressive Action alongside AAPI Victory Fund and Asian Americans Rising made history. We bolstered the efforts of activists and elected officials in our community, came together to celebrate our strength, and made our voices heard for the upcoming 2020 elections.

We were joined by elected officials, influencers, and three Presidential candidates -- along with hundreds of engaged AAPI community leaders and individuals from throughout the country who are building the #AAPIMovement.

AAPI Community Action Summit

The AAPI Community Action Summit convened more than one hundred activists and community leaders to share their experiences in organizing and advocating for issues that matter to our community.

Former California State Treasurer John Chiang kicked off the Summit, followed by in-depth conversations about issues that matter most to AAPIs. 

Technology and data experts led a discussion on how we can use the power of data to inform and catalyze action within our communities. Then, over lunch, actors Vinny Chhibber and Vivien Ngô joined media experts Jess Ju and Nancy Wang Yuen to discuss their firsthand experiences in Hollywood as AAPIs.

Our afternoon sessions focused on providing resources and training to help individuals and organizations maximize their involvement in the political process, secure funding for future projects, and best engage with the media. And, the Honorable Vinai K. Thummalapally closed out our Summit in a fireside chat with Brad Jenkins. 

The Summit was a testament to the power that AAPIs have not only in California, but also on the national stage. None of this would have been possible without the support of our partners and sponsors: Onward Together, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Priorities USA, Planned Parenthood, Indivisible, United Domestic Workers (UDW), The Progressive Vietnamese American Association (PIVOT), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta, Asian Health Services, New American Leaders, The One Nation Commission, Hmong National Development Inc. (HND), EPIC, South Asian Network (SAN), Chinese American Elected Officials, National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA), Asian American Advocacy Fund, Asian American Coalition - Chicago, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), and Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC).

AAPI Summer Soiree

That very evening, we celebrated our collective strength at the AAPI Summer Soiree. Greeted by hundreds of lanterns and the boom of Taiko drumming, this was not your typical AAPI community gala. The Summer Soiree was all about connecting with both new and familiar faces. Moreover, it was an opportunity to have a genuinely good time with the diverse crowd of activists and influencers.

Some highlights included appearances by Congresswoman Judy Chu, performances by local University of California Irvine students, and poker with American Idol star William Hung.

AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum

The weekend’s events culminated with Sunday’s historic AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum. For the first time, AAPI issues were pushed to the forefront with Presidential candidates: Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard. Moderators Richard Lui of MSNBC, Esther Lee of Spectrum News 1, and Pulitzer prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen led the discussions, and accompanied the candidates as they fielded questions from the audience.

The AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum made waves within the community and in the media quite literally. Notably, Andrew Yang was seen crowdsurfing in a group of supporters. Tom Steyer also announced his qualification for the upcoming fourth debate in October. And Tulsi Gabbard spoke on her position, upholding LGBTQ rights and lifting the travel ban.

The full broadcast is available here.

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This weekend was a momentous occasion for the AAPI community. It’s important we stay engaged and informed as we approach the 2020 election and beyond.

Photo Credit: Rock Chang

AAPI Victory Fund’s Varun Nikore and Asian Americans Rising’s Katie Kalvoda open the first-ever AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum, Sept 8, 2019.

AAPI Victory Fund’s Varun Nikore and Asian Americans Rising’s Katie Kalvoda open the first-ever AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum, Sept 8, 2019.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley with former California State Treasurer John Chiang at the AAPI Community Action Summit, Sept 7, 2019.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley with former California State Treasurer John Chiang at the AAPI Community Action Summit, Sept 7, 2019.

Jess Ju. Vinny Chhibber, Nancy Wang Yuen, and Vivien Ngô discuss being AAPI in Hollywood at the AAPI Community Action Summit.

Jess Ju. Vinny Chhibber, Nancy Wang Yuen, and Vivien Ngô discuss being AAPI in Hollywood at the AAPI Community Action Summit.

American Idol’s William Hung plays poker at the AAPI Summer Soiree.

American Idol’s William Hung plays poker at the AAPI Summer Soiree.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang talks universal basic income with Pulitzer price-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen on stage at the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang talks universal basic income with Pulitzer price-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen on stage at the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum.

Presidential candidate Tom Steyer at the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum.

Presidential candidate Tom Steyer at the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum.

Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard at the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum.

Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard at the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum.

Rebecca Lee