The event featured established local and state politicians, including Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Hansen Clarke, State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood, Dr. Syed Taj of Canton Township, and Kevin Ketels of Grosse Pointe Woods. Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence was also present and gave an introduction to the event. She stated the importance of all communities, native-born and immigrant, to stand together and voice their views on topics important to them, as they are all Americans. She quoted Barack Obama by saying, “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it can change a state, it can change a nation.”
As mentioned earlier, APIA-Vote is an organization to mobilize the Asian American community. It does this by working on issues such as immigration/immigrant rights, education, health care, voting rights, and standing up against prejudice against the Asian American community. With the 2012 election campaign in full swing, much of the focus of the organization was on encouraging more Asian Americans to vote, since statistics show that the Asian American community has a lower rate of registered voters than other communities. APIA-Vote also has a youth division called the Youth Leadership Corps. Members of the corps are currently working on the Immigration Stories Project.
The project consists of high school students interviewing members of the community and recording their stories of immigration from their homelands to the U.S.After an introduction to the organization and its many activities and causes, the panelists introduced themselves and were asked a couple of questions from the moderator before the floor was opened for a Q & A session. One question dealt with what moment in their careers/lives made them proud to be Asian American. While all of the panelists had different personal stories to connect to this point, all said that their election to their respective positions created a proud moment for them.
Seeing their, and other, communities trust them and come out and support them was a source of pride. They were all honored by the fact that in their own ways, as some of the panelists were the first few, if not the first, Asian Americans to be elected to their positions, they were chosen to represent the community.