In 1984, the Asian American Advisory Council was formed as the brainchild of the late NYPD Commissioner Hon. Benjamin Ward, Deputy Commissioner of Community Affairs Hon. W. Holiday and the late Chief of Patrol, Chief John McCabe to create a necessary bridge between the various Asian American communities of New York City and the New York Police Department. From its inception to the present, the mission is to improve the quality of life for Asian Americans living in New York City and the surrounding areas. Initially, the mission was to create a platform from which Asian American communities could collectively voice their concerns over issues involving police relations with the Asian American communities and to educate them about police tactics, procedures, and policies. The purpose was to improve tactical and operational police strategies in reducing crime in Asian American communities, improving communication and coordinating law enforcement efforts.
Over time, the Asian American Advisory Commission evolved and expanded its scope. It started to sponsor and conduct seminars that involve numerous government agencies that address critical public policy issues such as immigration, consumer affairs, education, fire safety, truancy, education, crime prevention, community projects and economic development. It also held seminars with law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and New York City Police Department on matters of public safety which includes counter-terrorism, crime prevention, crowd control, community relations, and officer interaction with the public. We also coordinated with U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its subordinate agencies such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in providing informational seminars to the public to disseminate the current laws, rules, and procedures pertaining- to immigration and the legal rights of immigrants.
The advent of the new millennium with its drastic scientific and technological developments as well as social and political advancements brought forth changes and we had to adapt and refocus. Thus, in 2000, the Asian American Advisory Council became Asian American Council dropping Advisory in its name as we are no longer just an advisory body. We are no longer confined to ethnic or geographic factors but global in character and universal in scope. We allowed chapters to be opened up not only in Asian countries but also in Central America such as Guatemala and El Salvador. In 2002, in close cooperation with Stop AIDS Organization of Japan, the Council’s Committee for Stop AIDS and Poverty has lent its help and expertise in benevolent projects in sub-Saharan Africa such as Kenya, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique in their efforts to develop solutions to address the pressing problems caused by AIDS and poverty. The council also assisted the said organization to provide much-needed medical supplies and state-of-the-art ambulances to these countries. Also in that year, in close cooperation with said organization, we are instrumental in sponsoring soccer games for children deeply affected, either primarily or vicariously through their parents, by this dreadful disease. In 2012, we assisted said organization in sponsoring exhibition soccer matches to provide educational materials to support schoolchildren in South Africa.
Our relationship with leaders of Japanese corporations such as Tokyo Electric Company and others who are on the cutting edge of bringing about important changes in reducing energy costs and curb climate change has prompted us to create a committee to develop resources, forums and workshops to disseminate information and address pressing problems on these issues. On the international understanding level, in 2008, we have been the catalyst in liaising and forging sister-city ties between the City of Rome, New York and several Asian cities such as Long Yan, Fujian Province and Jin Chen Shan, Xi Province both in China and Su Seong Metropolitan City, Korea. As a result of these initiatives, in 2011 we also helped the City of Rome, NY to conclude sister city relationship with Conghua City, Guandong, China and Yanji City, Jillin Province, China. In 2010, through our efforts, Atlantic City, NJ also forged a sister-city relationship with Zhanjiang Municipal Government, Guandong, China and Chunju City, Korea. Last year and this year, a high-level delegation headed by Governor Shin Woo-Chul of Wando-gun, Korea visited Nassau County, NY for possible investment, trade, and commerce. Also this year, a high-level delegation from Linyi City, China visited Nassau County for possible trade and commerce as well as the possibility of a friendly relationship between them. In championing sister-city or friendly relationship, our aim is to foster international understanding albeit on city and county level, expansion of knowledge and enrichment of personal experience through cultural and exchange programs and to help develop the economy by providing a platform for foreign trade and investments and in creating economic opportunities.
The Council has cultivated a good relationship with Central American countries such as El Salvador and Guatemala. In the last decade, we sent cancer prevention medicines to the national Cancer Prevention Research Center in Guatemala. As a result, Asian multinational corporations have requested our expertise to help in their investment initiatives to act as a liaison between them and the governments of Central American countries.
On the local level, in cooperation with Tomiko Abe Foundation of Japan, we gave scholarships to children of NYPD and NYFD officers who died in the line of duty (initially those who perished in the 9/11 tragedy). Last year, we expanded it to include children not only of NYPD and NYFD officers but also children of officers of U.S. Homeland Security. Early this year, we sponsored a community outreach program with NYFD Bureau of Fire Prevention on Hot Work Operation Fire Safety. The program dealt on how to get a license to operate torch and welding equipment.
This is to help Asian American communities in their livelihood, creating business opportunities and in improving their quality of life.
In August of this year, we have entered a new phase to continue to develop and expand. Thus, we have to re-structure and expand our advocacy. We have also decided to change our name and henceforth, to be known as Asian American Congress. Although we are expanding our advocacy, we also cognizant of our past. We will continue to be the advocate of the people, provide informational resources and act as the forum to address problems. We are continuing to be the voice of Asian American communities.
As we look forward to the future, we will hold on to our belief in the rule of law, peaceful co-existence, and friendship, loyalty to our country and pride in our ethnic heritage. We are, after all, an amalgam of our heritage and the American dream.