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Issue: 615   Date: 06/06/2002

2002 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Celebration Reception
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans

CAPA Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration.  From left to right: Olivia Pieknik, Dr. Thu Doan, Dr. Vincent Joe, Dr. Kendall Itoku, Cecilia Nadal, Phoong Tang, Simon Huang, Cathy Chu, and Laura Paige (not shown, but in attendance at registration: Nancy Mah)


By Olivia Ly Pieknik

It was a picture perfect of diversity and strength representing today's St. Louis community. Over 60 guests from the African American and Asian American community organizations watched the dragon dance performing in front of the bronze statue of the American eagle in the lobby of Anheuser-Busch Companies. The Annual Dinner Celebration of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May) was held at One Busch Place on Saturday, June 1. The event was co-sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and Coalition of Asian-Pacific Americans (CAPA). Among the guests at the reception were Rev. and Mrs. Gillespie, Mrs. Jamie Graham of Cote-Brilliante Presbyterian Church, Dr. Norman Seay and Dr. Uma Segal of University of Missouri-St. Louis, Board members from Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), Japanese Americans Citizens League (JACL), Korean Americans Association, Vietnamese Culture and Education Center and representatives from many other community organizations. 

Following the dragon dance performed by the youth group of the Vietnamese Culture and Education Center, guests were treated to a delicious dinner in the main dining room. Mr. Simon Huang, an employee of Brown Shoe Company and CAPA 2002 president, continued the after-dinner program by thanking Anheuser-Busch and in particularly, Mr. David Kim and Ms. Susan Rudd for their continued support to the Asian American community in St. Louis. "The event would not be possible without the generous financial support from Anheuser-Busch", Mr. Huang commented. 

Simon Huang, President of Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans

Mr. Huang introduced the 2002 Board members, Dr. Kendall Itoku as Vice President, Dr. Vince Joe as Treasurer and Dr. Thu Doan as Secretary. Board members are non-paid volunteers. 

Mr. Huang provided the audience with the history of the annual dinner as part of the celebration of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation celebrating the first Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. Later, in 1987, President Ronald Reagan formally signed the Proclamation honoring the contributions and achievements of Asian Pacific Island Americans. In 1990 President George Bush declared the month of May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. 

Ms. Cathy Chu (middle), former President of CAPA, 
Korean community representative Ms. Kimmie Foster (left)
and Ms. Laura Paige

The goal of the gathering is to provide networking opportunity for leaders and representatives from community organizations. The main purpose of the event was building understanding and promoting awareness of cultural diversity in the St. Louis community. Dr. John Hara, Mrs. Nikki Hara and other leaders in the Asian Americans community founded CAPA in 1991. It is a non-profit, non-partisan organization consists of many Asian American organizations such as Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), Japanese Americans Citizens League (JACL), Korean Americans Association, Thai Association of Greater St. Louis, Philippine Art Foundation, Filipino Chamber of Commerce and Vietnamese Culture and Education Center. 

Cote-Brilliante Presbyterian Church and Korean community representatives

Some of CAPA's past activities included participation on the Police-Community Relations Committee, the St. Louis 2004 Hate Crimes Task Force, collaboration with the Missouri Historical Society on an oral history and photographic display on St. Louis Asian Pacific American history and partnership with Anheuser-Busch and OCA to donate Asian American books to the St. Louis Public Library. Some of the recent projects CAPA has undertook were assisting the Missouri Department of Aging in disseminating information regarding Missouri Senior Prescription program, as well as working closely with the National Conference for Community and Justice promoting programs such as Anytown and Dismantling Racism. Olivia Ly Pieknik, a 1999 graduate of the Dismantling Racism program has been organizing and leading the on-going African-Asian American dialogue group between CAPA members and members from Cote-Brilliante Presbyterian Church. Cote Brilliante is a recent winner of a prestigious Danforth Foundation "I Dare You Award" grant valued at $100,000 for its community service projects. The dialogue group sends representatives to each other's event as a form of enhancing and strengthening relationships. 

Ms. Cecilia Nadal and Vietnamese community representatives

Mr. Huang reiterated the significance of contributions in government, business, science and the arts by Asian Americans to the United States. According to the recent U.S. census, Asian Pacific Islander population has reached approximately 10.5 million, making it one of the fastest growing minority segments in the country. 

The event continued with Ms. Cecilia Nadal as the feature speaker. Ms. Nadal is an entrepreneur and a professor. She is the owner of Productive Futures, Inc. a human resource firm specializing in the training and employment of economically disadvantage minorities in St. Louis and president of the Board of Gitana Productions, a non profit arts and education organization dedicated to increasing cultural awareness and appreciation by bringing international music, dance and drama to St. Louis. In 2000, Gitana packed Powell Symphony on Labor Day weekend by showcasing a rare performance by the world renowned China National Orchestra. The performance featured 80 musicians performing traditional Chinese folk music from various regions in China. It was the first time an African American based arts organization hosted a major Chinese cultural event. 

In her inspiring presentation, Ms. Nadal shared her philosophy as "We are here with one central mission, to magnify the loving personality of our creator and to daily promote the creation of a diverse universal family of peace, unqualified love and fellow-felling."

Performances by the Chinese Dance Group of the St. Louis Modern Chinese Language School followed after Ms. Nadal's presentation. The group of eight lovely young ladies performed traditional Chinese folk dance entitled Rocking the Sun, Yellow Hill and Shepherd Girls and modern dance of rock n roll. The event concluded with a drawing of attendance prizes including a book signed and donated by Mr. Frank Wu, author of the newly released publication called Yellow - Race in America beyond black and white. Mr. Wu is the first Asian American to serve as a law professor at Howard University Law School. He writes and speaks frequently on the subject of affirmative action, globalization, immigration and other controversial contemporary issues through the eyes of the Asian American experience. Other prizes consisted of golf gift bags donated by SITE Improvement Association, Cardinals baseball and MUNY tickets, donated by CAPA Board members. 

Mr. Huang concluded the evening with a call to the audience to "work with each other. In your own way, act to increase understanding, act to build relationships and act to improve our communities." 

To learn more about CAPA, please contact Mr. Simon Huang at or writing to CAPA, P.O. Box 302, Wildwood, MO 63040.

Simon Huang, President of Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans

(The China National Traditional Orchestra U.S. Tour 2000)


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