Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Good evening, everyone. I am honored to be here tonight to present the Act To Change Allied Organization of the Year award to AAPI Youth Rising. This award recognizes the organization’s leadership and continued efforts in advancing the rights and well-being of AAPI youth across the country.
This work could not be more timely or more urgent. One of our highest priorities at the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department has been to confront the rising tide of hate directed at the AAPI community. We have prosecuted those who have committed hate crimes, including securing a 25-year prison sentence for the man who attacked an Asian-American family with a knife at a Sam’s Club in Midland, Texas, because he blamed them for the COVID-19 pandemic. We also prosecuted a man who recently pled guilty after threatening to injure an Asian-American doctor in Maryland who had been a vocal proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine. And just last week, we charged a Nevada man with 98 counts of federal hate crimes and other offenses tied to the murder of one person and attempted murder of 44 others, following the shooting and attempted bombing at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Southern California in May 2022.
We have also confronted hate incidents, including by securing a settlement agreement that requires the Davis School District in Utah to undertake significant reforms to address and prevent harassment reported by AAPI and Black students, including racist insults and bullying.
But we cannot prosecute or litigate our way to a fully inclusive and just society. It takes work from all of us. And AAPI Youth Rising is truly leading the way.
Although a young organization, AAPI Youth Rising has been at the forefront of social justice and advocacy. Two years ago, they organized the first AAPI Youth Rising Rally. Over 1,000 people attended that rally, which featured over a dozen young leaders who spoke out against anti-Asian hate and xenophobia. Through their efforts, they have been a voice for AAPI youth and raised awareness of the bullying and hate affecting the community.
The organization has also created a model curriculum, One Day of AAPI History, that promotes the teaching of Asian American studies. It has grown rapidly, expanding to nearly 80 Chapters in 25 states. Last year, AAPI Youth Rising was recognized by the American Girl company for their advocacy around AAPI representation, which helped lead to the first Asian-American Girl of the Year doll. They were also honored at President Biden’s “United We Stand” Summit at the White House and appeared as subject matter experts before the Health Equity Subcommittee of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Founder and Executive Director Mina Fedor was not only last year’s recipient of Act To Change’s “Changemaker of the Year” Award but also a Finalist for Time Magazine’s 2022 Kid of the Year Award.
The impact of AAPI Youth Rising's work can be seen in the positive change they have brought across the country. Their work has been an inspiration to us all, and I am proud to present this award. Please join me in congratulating AAPI Youth Rising in recognition of their work and continued efforts on behalf of the community – I welcome to the podium Mina, Charlee, Cooper, Kobi, Ethan, Collin, Mimi, Max and Johanna.