APALA Continues Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by Celebrating Our Young Leaders

The month of May is often fueled with pride and celebration for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities as well as a time for many to acknowledge and reflect on the rich contributions AAPIs continue to have on the United States.

As we reflect on this past year and all the work the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) has been able to accomplish, we want to use Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) to highlight our young leaders in APALA, their intersectional analysis and what they bring to social movements. Since APALA’s founding, one of our guiding principles has been to create intentional intergenerational organizing spaces, and through that have engaged in difficult but necessary dialogue that have only made our organization’s commitment to worker, immigrant and civil rights stronger.

The labor movement continues to be the mechanism in putting people on a path towards and retaining the middle class, and we need young leaders to build on this important legacy in order to support the future of working people everywhere. Furthermore, it is important to leverage the capacity young people have to enact transformative social change as has been captured throughout history. The presence of young people have been at the core of monumental victories from the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movements, environmental justice, the immigrant rights movement, the fight for criminal justice reform, and so much more. The intersectional lens at which many young leaders approach progressive work is not only refreshing but necessary in centering the narratives of those often marginalized or made invisible even amongst progressives.

This month, APALA will be featuring six young leaders as a part of APAHM to celebrate these young leaders and what they have brought to the labor movement. Among them include Yves Gomes (United Food and Commercial Workers-UFCW), Susan Li (Service Employees International Union-SEIU), Monica Thammarath (National Education Association-NEA), Steven Moy (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers-IBEW), Sabrina Yow-chyi Liu (United Steelworkers-USW) and Jessica Cendana (Communications Workers of America-CWA). These young leaders have not only contributed to the growth of APALA, but also to the growth the broader labor movement and broader AAPI community.

At APALA we believe and recognize the value of young people and are fully committed in supporting and amplifying their voices to ensure increased participation and representation at all levels. Even more important, we are committed to developing even greater pipeline programs for young leaders to become further engaged with social justice movements in all forms. Collective liberation can only be achieved through collective participation, and APALA is committed to ensuring that young people are included, respected, and valued as powerful key players in the advancement of our movement forward.

Please follow us on social media for APAHM and other updates: @APALAnational (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).

Hester is National President of APALA and an International Vice President for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

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