The Grand Staircase area of the Massachusetts State House was filled with attendees on Thursday, May 10th celebrating Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Organized by the Governor's Asian American Commission (AAC), many notable Asian American figures in public service were in attendance, including Newtown Alderwoman Amy Mah Sangiolo, Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, State Rep. Tackey Chan, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Justice Fernande ‘Nan' Duffly.
They comments ranged from how they entered into politics, what causes are important to them, to really acknowledging the support and commitment to diversity from Governor Deval Patrick who addresses the crowd at the end. In particular, State Senator Diaz and Justice Duffly's comments about taking care of others and taking pride in the extensive heritage of Asian Americans resonated. They believe our differences can create a richer framework that brings us together, not causes division.
State Senator Chang-Diaz shared and challenged, "I want to challenge you to think personally ... What are we doing in our day to day lives to celebrate our heritage, to make our contributions back to the communities we are part of? And to practice what I preach, I was thinking about myself. I really feel strongly about the advocacy work I do around supporting education and also supporting a dignified role for our elders, care for our elders. Those are two things I value and draw this from my Asian American heritage. I was reading an autobiography that my Dad recently published, it was so enriching for me to read about my ancestors, about my great-grandfather and his settlement in Costa Rica. I want to personally encourage you to take small actions like that ... so that we are living out a celebration of our heritage."
Justice Fernande ‘Nan' Duffly said, "Almost everyone who lives and works in this country except if you are Native American came from another place. Your ancestors came from another place. Or if you are like me, I came from another place. I came from Indonesia by the way of Holland. And it's the strength and diversity that we know that contributed to the strength of this country ... as well as the Constitutional ideals of this country. It makes this country such an unique and productive society."