Chinatown Honors the “Dream”

By Rev. Norman Fong

January 15, 2018

When Mrs. Lily Chin came here to Chinatown in 1983, after her son Vincent was killed in Detroit in ‘82, I was in tears for her and so disappointed in the “American Justice System” that let her son’s killers get off free. Vincent Chin was hit with a baseball bat because the killers thought he was Japanese and they blamed the Japanese Car industry for taking away American Auto workers’ jobs. It was so sad not only because Vincent was not Japanese but it was also because he was at his “Bachelor’s night party” because he was soon to be married.

vincent chin march
San Francisco (1983)

From every Chinatown & Asian American Community, we were all shocked that America (decades after the Civil Rights act in 1964 & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for had passed), would allow these White Racists to go free for committing racist murder almost two decades later.

I am writing today’s column in honor of the “I have a Dream” speech Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke back in 1963. He dreamed for a day when “Skin color” would no longer be a reason for prejudice in America. He dreamed of a day when America would be free of prejudice and all races could get along. Sadly, even today, Race does matter.

I know, even personally, that there is still racism between the races… and also a lot of abuse against women and gays… In the Chinese Community, it’s really tough to talk about inter-ethnic prejudice too like between Blacks and Asians who seem to get beat up all the time. BUT REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DREAMED & MARCHED for EQUALITY & RESPECT FOR ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR and demanded civil rights for all.

The Dream he hoped for is the very same Dream that Chinatown honors as well. The Dream is that all people will respect & love each other no matter what they look like and people will judge each other only by their character. The good Rev. King marched to end prejudice and also to build the “Beloved Community” where we would all respect each other’s culture & history… and get along.

I am proud to say that Chinatown has honored & supported that Dream as well.In 1993, my home church, the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown & Cameron House, flew all the way to Washington DC to join the 30th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. march & “I have a Dream Speech” led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (which he led in 1963).

washinton dc march 1993
30th Anniversary of the "I have a Dream" march and speech in Washington D.C. (1993)

asian americans honor the dream
San Francisco (1997)

I am also so proud that the seniors and leaders of Chinatown (the Community Tenants Association) led the march in San Francisco to celebrate the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade in 1997 when “Asian Americans Honor the Dream” (see picture). Rev. Cecil Williams kept shouting that 80 seniors from Chinatown came to join with us today to honor the dream.

I am also proud, that we in San Francisco Chinatown, led the march in 1983, to demand justice for Vincent Chin with his brave mom – Mrs. Lily Chin to demand justice for her son – which he never got – but we must continue to support that dream of equality forever.

Chinatown will always continue to support that Dream for equality of all people in America. I am so proud of San Francisco Chinatown’s leadership from our seniors, youth & families for many decades.

When I graduated from Galileo High School in 1969, my class song that we sang at our graduation was “TO DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM”… and to this day, I believe we must work hard to achieve equality & civil rights for all people as America celebrates Rev. King’s Dream.

Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on January 14, 2018

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