On this day in 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man, died four days after a brutal baseball bat beating by two white men in Highland Park.
This took place during times of heightened tension due to the struggling U.S. auto industry at the time. Instead of going to his wedding, his friends and family attended his funeral. Asian Americans across ethnic lines came together and organized for justice when they realized his attackers never served a full day in jail. The incident galvanized a pan-Asian American movement.
Learning about the details of the Vincent Chin case when I was in high school spurred me to want to become more active on civil rights and social justice issues. I wanted to learn and do more, especially across ethnic and racial lines. Reading about the case was a catalytic moment for me as a young activist. Learning about the Chin case led me to learn more about and later work on issues such as affirmative action, voting rights, education equity, and more.
Fifty years ago, several young men lost their lives in the name of freedom and the right to vote. In 1962, less than 7 percent of eligible Black voters were registered in Mississippi. Freedom Summer activists made great personal sacrifices so that all people could have the right to vote, as they worked alongside local residents in Mississippi. Volunteers organized Freedom Schools, registered voters, and more. At least four activists were killed, more were wounded, and over a thousand were arrested. I know that the rights we have today are due to the blood and tears shed by many who came before us.
Making sure that everyone has access to our country's democratic process became one passion of mine. I have registered people to vote, organized Election Day efforts in the Asian American community to protect the right to vote, testified on voting rights issues and redistricting, and met with several local clerks about translating election materials so that everyone can accurately cast their vote.
As long as there are efforts to suppress the vote, we have more work to do. I will be a strong voice for voting rights when elected to the Michigan State House.
Will you encourage 10 of your friends to vote in the August 5th primary this year?To learn more about this Stephanie Chang's campaign, please check out stephaniechang.com.