The Fairfax Museum honored the Asian Pacific American community with two events this October. A roundtable discussion, “Fairfax’s Asian Pacific American Story” was held Oct. 15 to celebrate the opening day of the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, “I Want the Wide American Earth Exhibit.” After the discussion, a tour of the traveling exhibit followed at the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center.
Panelists included prominent members of Fairfax’s Asian Pacific community. These are first-time City of Fairfax council members, So P. Lim and Sang H. Yi. Lim; Corazon Sandoval Foley who wrote several books about the history of Asian Americans in Fairfax and led the creation of the “Burke/West Springfield Senior Center without Walls;” and Ted Gong, the executive director of the 1882 Foundation. This is a non-profit organization that aims to promote awareness of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a federal law that prevented the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States.
Dr. Amy Trang is an Administrator at the National Task Force on Hepatitis B Focus on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. She has twenty years of experience working with multicultural communities, including writing the Vietnamese language curriculum and program of studies at Falls Church High School in 2015.
Fairfax County has a diverse population with a big representation from the Asian Pacific Americans. Out of the estimated 1.1 million residents of Fairfax, the US Census reported that twenty percent identified themselves as Asian in 2017. In the United States, five percent of the population are Asian Pacific Americans. These represent people from all over Asia as well as the Pacific Islands and Polynesia.
The roundtable discussion and exhibit remembers the history of racial prejudice and immigration bans experienced by Asian Pacific Americans and celebrates the successes they have achieved. It also recognizes the difficulties immigrants encountered in the past, and the ongoing challenges they face today.