Uniting Against Racism: Holocaust Museum Houston Hosts a Crucial Anti-Racism Conference Reminding Us
There Is One Race: Human

Carl E. Josehart (Board Chair), Nancy Li (Conference Co-Chair), Dr. Kelly J. Zuniga (HMH CEO), Dr. Peter Chang (Conference Co-Chair)

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The Honorable Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston

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Vican and Stephanie Sun

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Carl E. Josehart (Board Chair), Nancy Li (Conference Co-Chair), Dr. Kelly J. Zuniga (HMH CEO), Dr. Peter Chang (Conference Co-Chair)

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This past weekend, a critical two-day event took place at Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) Lester and Sue Smith Campus. Presented by the Jerold B. Katz Foundation and Wells Fargo, the Moving Forward: Challenging Racism conference ran from Saturday, February 26, 2022 until Sunday, February 27, 2022.

Free to the public, the conference, which was attended by Houstonians from a wide range of ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, was a focused response to the elevation of prejudicial words and actions against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Utilizing the knowledge of experts from across the United States, the two-day event examined the long history of Asian America and considered the way to move forward as a unified society that denounces racism, reminds us there is one race: human, and promotes and nurtures equality.

The conference, chaired by Peter Chang, MD, PhD and Nancy Li-Tarim, couldn’t have been held at a more significant time. Says Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, CEO of HMH, “The AAPI community has been especially affected by hateful rhetoric and acts over the past two years. History has shown us that unchecked hate leads to violence and cannot be tolerated. Holocaust Museum Houston is proud to bring in scholars and experts from around the country to share their knowledge on combating racism.”  

The AAPI Leadership Committee in Houston is made up of the following engaged individuals: Peter Chang, MD, PhD; Charles Foster; Marten Goossen; Connie Kwan-Wong; Kenneth Li; Nancy Li-Tarim; Carmen Ng; and Elaine Zhang.

Along with the insights provided by all the remarkable speakers, a conference highlight was the inspiring lunch-time speech delivered by Houston Mayor, the Honorable Sylvester Turner. In it, he talked about the importance of diversity in our community and the fact that opportunities to lead productive lives are open to everyone. He also spoke about the fact that no one should remain silent when observing racism in any form, stressing that it is up to us to raise up good. By doing so, he stated, good will travel faster than evil. Observations made by other speakers were that we have to be aware of not repeating history, even though we see it occurring every day; we must understand that remaining silent in the presence of prejudice does not improve the situation, speaking up and taking action does; we must understand that prejudice can be handed down from generation to generation and be an aspect of someone’s upbringing; and we must take it upon ourselves to learn about diversity and cultural differences and be open to those differences. An overriding theme of the conference was that there is a lot of work still to be done, but that gatherings like this one prove hope is abundant and that by working together change is within our grasp.

For the many participants, the conference was an eye-opening window into the world of the AAPI community, past, present, and future. From the first session, Locally and Nationally: Where We Have Been, Where Are We Today?, featuring guest speakers David Inoue(JACL) and Charles Foster(Foster, LLP), attendees were challenged to consider and reflect on the prejudices and accomplishments of the past and the situation as it is now.

Each presentation that followed spotlighted a different aspect of the AAPI community, broadening participants’ understanding and providing fodder for discussions on solutions to the current state of affairs. Dr. Anne S. Chao spoke about Asian American Contributions to Houston; Texas State Representative Gene Wu, Gordon Quan (Quan Law Group), and Theresa Chang (UH System) led a workshop on Increasing Community and Civic Engagement; David Ono (KABC, Los Angeles) presented Our America: Asian Voices, and led the keynote discussion; City Council Member Abbie Kamin, Assistant Chief Ban Tien (HPD), and Dena Marks (ADL) spoke on Putting a Stop to Hate, which was moderated by Al Tribble; author and television screenwriter Paula Yoo, who was introduced by CKW LUXE publisher, Connie Kwan-Wong, delivered From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement, based on her book of the same name; Professor Paul Chu (UH) and Donna Cole (Cole Chemical) spoke on Scientists and Society: Vocation and Advocation; Rabbi David A. Lyon, Reverend Seido Francavilla, and Pastor Mia Wright addressed Building Coalitions in Our Community; Daniel Hu (Dept. Of Justice) and Jan Miller and Dodie Kasper (Law Related Education, State Bar of Texas) spoke on Law and Justice; Paula Yoo conducted the workshop, Vincent Chin’s Legacy; Megan Sham and Nguyen Lee addressed Recognizing Bias, Bystander Intervention and Situational Awareness; and Daniel Hu (Dept. of Justice), A. B. Cruz III (NAPABA), Y. Ping Sun (Asia Society Texas Board Chair), and David Gerger (Attorney) delivered the closing lecture, Moving Forward. Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, CEO of HMH, gave the closing remarks.

No matter their previous involvement with, or knowledge of, the AAPI community, participants in this landmark conference gained new insight into, and understanding of, the tapestry of its history and its place in the country today.  As well, it helped attendees discover the common values we all share despite our perceived differences. With this gift of knowledge, the community gained the tools necessary to take part in informed discussions and join the effort to produce significant positive change.

About Holocaust Museum Houston

Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH), Lester and Sue Smith Campus, is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. It was founded in 1996 by Houston-area Holocaust survivors, their descendants, and members of the community and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims who lost their lives during this terrible period in history, and honoring the survivors’ legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, HMH teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice, and apathy.

SPECIAL THANKS TO SPONSORS

Presenting Sponsors
The Jerold B. Katz Foundation

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Premier Sponsor

Honorable Theresa Chang and Peter Chang, M.D., Ph.D.

Anchor Sponsor
Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron
The Warren Family

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Connie Kwan-Wong / Thomas Kuranoff / Gule Andrabi / Susan Boggio / Diana Collins, M.D. / Flora Choy / Anna Dean / Leela Krishnamurthy / Dr. William and Teresa Reading / Jane Wagner

Partner Sponsors

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Mandy and Ronnie Caress
Sylvia and Gordon Quan

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