The Massachusetts Asian American Commission (AAC) held its 2nd Annual Gala Unity Dinner on May 10, 2008 with more than 250 guests in attendance. The Master of Ceremonies for the event was Sorboni Banerjee, 7NEWS General Assignment Reporter.
“We are here to celebrate the richness of our diversity. Asian Americans are the fastest growing minorities, who have overcome great hardship to realize the American dream and made great contribution in the areas of education and technology. However, we have unique concerns and face many challenges in complete integration in the society,” said Paul Lee, Commissioner, AAC.
According to Neelam Wali, Chair, AAC, “AAC is not involved in legal issues. It now has an office in the State House. As part of needs assessment last year, AAC organized a series of town meeting in Lowell, Quincy, Chinatown, Brookline and Newton. More are planned in Burlington, Worcester and Springfield. The issues discussed ranged from healthcare and jobs to housing and education.” “Overall, even though the needs of the Asian Americans are diverse, we all have the same family values and issues,” said Wali.
Lura Smith, an African American who is the Assistant to the President, Middlesex Community College, spoke about discrimination she had faced as a young woman. "I could buy clothes in stores but was not allowed to try them on. No one would give me a mortgage for a house. All of us have the same hopes and desires. I am living the dream with you tonight. We should thank our ancestors for why we are here today and all of us should leave a legacy for our children and grand children. If you can’t run, walk, If you can’t walk, crawl. Whatever you do, keep on moving,” said Smith.
Lisa Wong, Mayor of Fitchburg spoke about growing up in an Asian American home and trying to find her identity. "Becoming a mayor helped me connect with people around me"
Performaces by the Shaolin Hung Gar Martial Arts Academy, Hima Appiah and Jhumka Sance Company added color to the event.
Kumu Gupta, who is on Advisory Board of AAC, was able to obtain a Congratulatory Letter from Senator Kennedy for the Unity Dinner Program book, who could not be there due to previous engagement.
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Lura Smith, Sorboni Banerjee, Neelam Wali and Lisa Wong