Forty years of advocacy for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) will culminate into a year-long anniversary celebration for the nation’s largest civil rights and legal services organization, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL).
Since its founding in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the social justice organization has helped spark and inspire the growing AAPI movement by encouraging individuals and organizations to demand social justice and equity.
With its staff of lawyers and experts, AJSOCAL has shaped policy and public programs that strengthen the AAPI community. Among them have been hate crime laws, anti-sweatshop labor standards and Asian language accessibility. The organization also works on an individual level within the community in seven Asian languages by serving over 15,000 low-income clients with free legal guidance on critical issues such as immigration, anti-Asian hate, housing and access to healthcare.
“Since our founding, we have been a leader in the social justice movement for Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), providing crucial help to individuals while advocating for the well-being of our community,” said Connie Chung Joe, CEO of AJSOCAL. “We will gather throughout the year so that leaders, neighbors and change-makers can be further seen, better known, and even more solidly unified. Everything we do this year will gather the community, amplify the forces of good and propel the AAPI movement forward.”
In that spirit, the year of activities are branded 40FORWARD which marks a celebratory year and AJSOCAL’s ongoing fight for justice and continued service. AJSOCAL aims to create an inclusive, equitable world for all in which AAPIs are empowered and thrive.
“We will remember and celebrate the people and moments that have led to the AAPI movement as we are living it today. We believe that the strength of our AAPI community depends on the forward momentum of our social justice movement,” said Joe. “AJSOCAL will be 40 and with partners and supporters, we will keep moving ahead. We will not stop fighting to achieve true equity and peace.”
Some impactful events and initiatives this year include:
• March 30 saw a virtual game night gathering of pro bono lawyers and volunteers who support the organization. Over 300 volunteers have given over 5000 hours to help AJSOCAL meet its mission
• April 24 will feature multi-course dinner created by seven of LA’s most exciting chefs who will come together at the acclaimed restaurant Cassia in Santa Monica. Here, award-winning journalist, producer and television host, Lisa Ling, and celebrated actor, director and producer, Daniel Wu, will be honored with AJSOCAL’s Ruby Hero Award.
• May 11 for API Heritage Month will be a book launch for author Julia Lee’s novel, Biting the Hand, which highlights the Asian American experience, at The Village Well in Culver City.
• May 20 for API Heritage Month will be a very special day. In the wake of the Monterey Park massacre earlier this year, AAPIs and allies will gather for a free, family-friendly afternoon dance at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio. This celebrates the unbreakable spirit, pride and joy of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Earlier that same day, AJSOCAL will offer an expanded session of its free citizenship clinic, one of the most valuable legal resources in the community.
• July 20 will be a day of service for volunteers in Los Angeles and Orange County to help assemble care and safety kits that will be distributed to the AAPIs throughout the year.
• October 12 will be the culmination of the year. The 40th annual gala celebration
at the Vibiana in Downtown LA will bring together over 800 leaders of industry, social justice, entertainment, arts, and culture. This has been a cornerstone event in the AAPI commu- nity for decades and will be the capstone of 40FORWARD.
All AAPIs and allies are encouraged to attend and/or sponsor AJSOCAL’s 40th anniversary celebration 40FORWARD.
To learn more and to get involved in the API movement, visit the organization’s website at ajsocal.org.