Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz hosted an annual celebration in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at St. John’s University. The program included awards honoring notable community members of Asian and Pacific Island descent and a keynote address by Queens Civil Court Judge Karen Lin.
“This year’s celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage is especially gratifying because we were finally able to come together in person,” Katz said. “Celebrating the cultural and civic impact that Asian communities have made in Queens strengthens our ability to confront the challenges we face along the way. It is my hope that building understanding will also contribute to ensuring fair justice for all who live and work here in Queens.”
Among the honorees were The Flushing Chinese Business Association, Korean Community Services and the DA’s Felony Trials II Deputy Bureau Chief Rosemary Chao and Unit Supervisor of Diversion and Alternative Sentencing Harleen Kaur.
“Despite the vital ways that Asian Americans have shaped our nation, the many contributions of our community are often forgotten or ignored, leading to the perception that Asian Americans are perpetual foreigners in America,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said. “That is why I am fighting to amplify the experiences, stories, culture, and history of Asian Americans, including leading the effort to establish a national museum dedicated to our community’s history, advocating for the inclusion of Asian Pacific American history in school curricula, and seeking federal recognition for holidays that are important to our community, such as Lunar New Year, Diwali, Eid, and many others.”
State Senator John Liu said AAPI Heritage Month is a time for the community to celebrate the history, heritage, and future of Asian Americans.
“Whether standing up and fighting back against the onslaught of anti-Asian hatred or advocating for a more inclusive curriculum that teaches Asian American history in public schools, Asian Americans are more united than ever,” Liu said. “Many thanks to Queens DA Melinda Katz for acknowledging and celebrating this important moment that pays tribute to those Asian Americans and community-based organizations that continue to support and uplift our community.”
Assemblyman Steven Raga, the first Filipino-American elected to office in New York state, said he was proud to co-sponsor the event.
“This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to embracing diversity and honoring the rich cultural heritage of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Queens,” Raga said. “Together, we celebrate the remarkable contributions that strengthen our community and inspire us all.”
Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, the first South Asian woman to be elected to New York State office, noted her close ties to the DA.
“We are partners in serving the AAPI community: she is always there for us when the community has a safety concern, and I supported her efforts by helping pass a budget with $30 million for AAPI safety,” Rajkumar said. “Now we are teaming up to honor some of the outstanding individuals and organizations that embody the hard work, dedication, and compassion that define the AAPI community.”
Councilwoman Sandra Ung noted that events like this one are an important recognition of the role Asian Americans have in shaping the nation we have today.
“Members of the AAPI community have been making important contributions to this country for generations, but to many we are seen as perpetual foreigners,” Ung said. “While May is a month to celebrate AAPI heritage, we should also reflect on the long impactful history of the AAPI community in the United States.”
Councilwoman Linda Lee joined Julie Won as the first Korean Americans elected to the City Council.
“This AAPI Heritage Month, I am proud to commemorate the traditions I remember celebrating as a child, with my friends and neighbors in the Queens community. The AAPI currently makes up 18 percent of NYC’s population and continues to grow, so it is great to see our culture, traditions, and food influence the lives of so many New Yorkers,” Lee said. “Thank you to Queens DA Melinda Katz and all of my colleagues who have partnered to create a celebration to reflect this great diversity, and to honor the immense contributions of the AAPI community to our city.”