Fighting for Civil Rights
Throughout its history, the Alliance has vigorously fought against every attempt in this country to disfranchise citizens of Chinese ancestry, whether by segregating Chinese children in the public schools, or by applying regulations discriminatorily against Chinese businesses. Many community projects, such as the San Francisco Chinatown Playground and a Chinatown police substation, have been due to the efforts and influence of Alliance members. Efforts in San Francisco Chinatown have been particularly strong . and have included the following: the Mei Lun Yuen Housing project, the Chinese Recreational Center, the Ping Yuen Housing project, the Gateway to Chinatown project at Grant Avenue and Bush Street, the Chinese Hospital, the North East Medical Services, and the Chinatown branch of the Employment Service. Working with parents to fight the forced busing of Chinese American children in San Francisco, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance was able to get the school district to finally address their concerns and work more closely with the Chinatown community.
The Alliance has been instrumental in getting many unfair laws changed. It spearheaded the fight against the inhumane separation of American citizens from their wives brought on by the immigration Act of 1924. The Chinese American Citizens Alliance successfully campaigned in 1936 for partial alleviation of this hardship. Walter U. Lum, Kenneth Y. Fung, and Peter Wong of San Francisco Lodge, George Pong of Detroit Lodge, Peter Soo-Hoo and Y. C. Hong of Los Angeles Lodge, W. L. Sun of Portland Lodge, and many other officers repeatedly appeared before immigration Committees during various sessions of Congress to plead their cause. On August 9, 1946, the matter was successfully concluded with the passage of a law granting nonquota status to Chinese wives of American citizens.
A provision of the Judd Bill, H.R. 199, attempted to eliminate this nonquota status for Chinese wives, but through the efforts of the officers of the Alliance, the unfair provisions were deleted from the final version passed by the House on March 1, 1949. The introduction of the Kilgore-Langer Bill, S. B.1860, on May 13, 1949, represented the continuing efforts on the part of the Alliance to safeguard the rights and privileges of American citizens. During the 81st Congress, Albert Chow and William Jack Chow, commissioned by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association to work on immigration legislation with Grand President Henry Lem and Y. C. Hong, appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on the Judiciary. On October 15, 1952, Alliance members appeared before President Harry Truman's Commission on Immigration and Naturalization to protest the unfair provisions of the Walter-McCarran Act and the arbitrary enforcement of that law by the American Consular officials in Hong Kong.
Social and Community Activities
On a less serious note, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance also hosts many fun activities. Each local lodge has its own activities within its respective community, including weekend socials, athletic tournaments, picnics, beauty contests, fashion shows, and other events enjoyed by members and the community at large. Initially began because Chinese Americans were racially excluded from attending other social gatherings, the dances, pageants, and other activities hosted by the various local lodges evolved to be among the top social events in their community. Lodges also support senior citizens and the needy in their communities by hosting luncheons, sponsoring fundraisers, and providing other programs for and on their behalf. In some communities, such as Phoenix and Washington D.C., the local lodge and their membership have helped build senior centers and community housing.
Activities for Youth and Education
As part of its educational endeavors, the Alliance for many years supported the American Cooks Training Program. The graduates of this program were often hired by prestigious hotel restaurants. To foster and promote the educational and intellectual accomplishments of Chinese American youth, a yearly National Essay Contest is held for high school students of Chinese descent. The Walter U. Lum Scholarship (named for one of the Alliance's founders) is a $2,000.00 award given biennially to a deserving college or university student of Chinese descent. In recent years, a second scholarship has been added for high school students. In connection with the celebrations during its centennial year, the Alliance sponsored an art contest. In what is now an annual event, the Alliance sponsors the Asian American Students in Action (A.S.I.A.) conference for Chinese and Asian American college students to come together to discuss issues of importance to the Asian American community and to develop their leadership potential. Besides these national programs, many local lodges also sponsor their own scholarships, oratorical contests, youth clubs, sports teams, and other activities for the youth in their communities. Portland Lodge, for example, has had a youth basketball program in place for over 25 years. In fact, the first students in the program have now become the coaches and leaders for a new generation of young players.
American Way of Life
A history of over a century certifies the soundness of principle and unselfish spirit upon which the Chinese American Citizens Alliance was founded. An organization that has been able to weather and surmount racial prejudices, economic handicaps, as well as social and political barriers for over 100 years to reach its present place of leadership is worthy of wholehearted support and encouragement. Its adherence to good citizenship, public service, and good fellowship should not be discounted. The notable names of the more recent leaders of the Alliance reads like a Who's Who of Chinese Americans: Harvey Wong, Justice Harry Low, Irvin Lai, Harold Fong, Judge Lenard Louie, Nowland Hong, Wilber Woo, George Chew, and Francis Louie. All are well known and respected in their own professional fields. Their civic activities, not only within the Chinese American communities but also in the community at large, have made them role models for future generations of Chinese Americans.
Though there have been many changes in our nation since 1895 and in the Chinese American communities throughout in the United States, the purposes and objectives of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance still remain a relevant and a guiding force over 100 years later, "To inculcate the principles of charity, justice, brotherly love, and fidelity among its members; to promote the general welfare and happiness of its members and the Chinese communities; to quicken the spirit of American patriotism; to insure the legal rights of its members, and to secure equal economical and political opportunities for its members."