On Monday, January 23, 2023, Colorado State Legislature recognized Lunar New Year as a celebration of all Asian Americans in Colorado –
“We celebrate the heritage, history and contributions of all Asian American and Pacific Islander Coloradans.” Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Matt Soper
“Lunar New Year celebrations offer us the opportunity to honor and recognize Asian Americans and their leaders for their contributions to both the history and the future of Colorado.” Senadora Julie Gonzales
Similarly, on the same day, Denver City Council proclaimed Lunar New Year as “…a special time to remember the beauty of Denver’s diversity and give recognition to many of Denver’s Asian communities, places and corridors that have made our City so special…” Proclamation No. 23-0076 City and County of Denver, Council President Jamie Torres.
These commendations are meant for all the AAPI Communities in Colorado. Whether our families have been here for generations or only recently immigrated here. Whether our families left their home country to escape war or poverty or natural disaster, or whether we came to the United States for a better education and prosperity.
Colorado State Legislature and the leaders in the City & County of Denver recognize the historical contribution of our community - and the historical discrimination our families have endured as residents of Colorado. From the destruction of Downtown Denver’s Chinatown 143 years ago, and the illegal internment of Japanese Americans at Camp Amache in southern Colorado during WWII. Our community has endured assaults and vandalism on South Asians and those from Muslim countries after 9/11, and hate and bigotry against our refugee families from Nepal, Myanmar and Bhutan. Then, most recently and most egregiously, the political false rhetoric during COVID-19 that has led to the anti-Asian hate and violence that we see today across the country - even here in Colorado.
Nonetheless, our community has been recognized for what we will contribute to the future of our State. For example,
- the organization Colorado Asian Pacific United is currently “reimagining” the original Chinatown in Downtown Denver.
- In March 2022, Camp Amache was proclaimed a National Historic Landmark in the National Park Services so that the outrage of Japanese American internment will not be forgotten.
- For the last two years, Colorado’s AANHPI communities, including the Asian Chamber of Commerce Colorado, have studied and evaluated media outlets to ensure equitable and just local news. The report, presented by The Voices Initiative from the Colorado News Collaborative and Colorado Media Project, will be released January 2023.
- More individuals in the AAPI Community are taking advantage of mental health and wellness services than ever before thanks to efforts from organizations such as the Asian Pacific Development Center, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, and many others.
- AAPI small-business communities who struggled during COVID are making a comeback thanks to the opportunities available from state, municipal and nonprofit agencies. Making realistic and successful connections for AAPI Small Businesses is the priority goal of the Asian Chamber of Commerce Colorado. In 2023, ACCColorado will be collaborating with the Colorado Minority Business Office, Energize Colorado, Downtown Denver Partnership, Denver Economic Development Opportunities Office, Good Business Colorado, WTC Denver and more, to make the connections needed.
- And every year there are multiple events, festivals, and holidays that our AAPI community shares with the public, including Asian American History Month in May, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, and Lunar New year celebrations.
Consistent and sincere recognition from our elected officials may have been unheard of until recently. It’s obvious that our history together and our hopes for our future together have made our voices louder than ever. We are heard and seen.