A Look Back at 30 Years of Advancing Justice | AAJC

By Ellie Shin and Yoko Zhu

Now in 2021, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has been fighting for Asian American civil rights for 30 years and counting. To celebrate, we combed through the archives for organization highlights, achievements, and photos, our favorites of which are displayed below.

1991: Advancing Justice — AAJC is founded as the National Pacific American Legal Consortium by the Asian Pacific American Law Caucus, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Asian Law Caucus “to advance the civil and legal rights of Asian Pacific Americans through litigation, public education, and public policy advocacy.”

1993: Advancing Justice — AAJC helps to successfully pass the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act which allows federal judges to increase the penalties of criminals convicted of committing a crime in which the victim was targeted due to “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.”

1996: The first annual American Courage Awards reception is held in Washington, D.C. and celebrates Advancing Justice — AAJC’s fifth anniversary.

1997: In order to provide technical assistance to the community, Advancing Justice — AAJC provides modest mini-grants, under their grant from the Emma Lazarus Fund, to community-based organizations to enhance or develop naturalization projects. AAJC awarded 16 grants to 19 organizations in June and 13 grants to 19 organizations in December.

2001: Advancing Justice — AAJC sends a delegation to the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in South Africa where they hold a workshop on anti-Asian hate crimes and on immigration and include Asian minorities for the first time in the documents.

2003: Advancing Justice — AAJC launches the Access to Democracy Project and convened two national meetings regarding the language assistance requirements in the Voting Rights Act.

Advancing Justice — AAJC works with the Justice Department to implement Executive Order 13166, which requires federal agencies and institutions receiving federal funding to address the needs of immigrants in their communities, and hosts an Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Rally.

2005: Advancing Justice — AAJC joins with Fair Chance which defends affirmative action, in conjunction with NAACP and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.

2009: Helped passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act which targets hate crimes motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

2010: Provided census and redistricting resources to 26 local and regional community-based organizations in 18 states, as well as 9 national AAPI partners

2012: Mee Moua takes over as Advancing Justice — AAJC president and executive director, shown here at the annual Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

2013: Advancing Justice — AAJC and affiliates form Asian Americans Advancing Justice as national affiliation.

2014: Advancing Justice — AAJC holds inaugural Youth Leadership Summit, bringing diverse college students from across the country to Washington, D.C. to learn how to advocate for racial justice and civil rights.

2015: Advancing Justice — AAJC celebrates the 19th annual American Courage Awards.

2016: Advancing Justice — AAJC celebrates its 25th anniversary.

AAJC Advancing Justice — AAJC hosts the 2nd annual Youth Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

2017: Advancing Justice — AAJC fights for the U.S. Census Bureau to receive adequate funding for a full and accurate count of the AAPI population through letters, testimony, and numerous meetings with lawmakers and stakeholders about the importance of accurate census data.

2019: Advancing Justice — AAJC successfully removed the citizenship question from the 2020 Census as co-counsel with the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund and as part of a coordinated network of lawyers in six different cases nationwide.

Advancing Justice — AAJC partners with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and more to urge the immediate passage of the Reuniting Families Act amidst increasing issues within the family immigration system left without updates for two decades.

2020: Advancing Justice — AAJC fought back against anti-Asian hate by training over 15,000 people in bystander intervention training with Hollaback!, collected stories encouraged people to report incidents on StandAgainstHatred.org, and collaborated with organizations like 88rising and Stop AAPI Hate.

As part of our 30th anniversary celebration, we at Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC want to thank all of our supporters, from those who have been with us for 30 years to those who have just recently joined us. Thank you for your faith in us to enact change, and we look forward to protecting civil rights for and bringing justice to our Asian American communities with you in the future.

Ellie Shin was a summer communications intern and Yoko Zhu is a fall communications intern with Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC.

Fighting for civil rights for all and working to empower #AAPIs to participate in our democracy. Follow: @johncyangdc @tao_minnis @meganessaheb