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'Solidarity is survival': Crowds gather in Washington for Unity March planned by Asian American leaders

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6/25/2022 Maria Aguilar, USA TODAY
a view of a city: The Unity March will bring numerous multicultural groups together to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this Saturday. © Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force via Getty Images The Unity March will bring numerous multicultural groups together to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this Saturday.

A crowd gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday for a Unity March — a multicultural event organized by Asian American leaders.

Event organizers shared photos and videos that showed a large crowd had come together to participate in the march, which aimed to bring the Asian American community and other historically marginalized groups together to connect, learn from one another and raise awareness about issues of racial equality, economic justice and civic engagement. 

The event came just a day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The march took place in close proximity to the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court building, as protesters demonstrating against the ruling continued gathering across the nation.

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Tiffany Chang, event organizer and Director of Community Engagement at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, said the major court decisions the country is currently grappling with are another reminder of what the Asian American community is fighting for.

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"These issues are going to affect Asian Americans as well, and there's no way that we can segment Asian issues from the gun violence prevention movement and from the reproductive justice movement," said Chang. "We're very aware of the wide array of issues we're facing right now, and we're hoping to be responsive as things develop."


Video: Thousands gather on National Mall in D.C. for first-ever unity march (MSNBC)

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This week also marked the 40th anniversary of the killing of Vincent Chin, whose death galvanized the Asian American civil rights movement.

Organizers aimed to bring attention to other issues impacting multicultural and marginalized communities. These issues included establishing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, promoting access to voting for traditionally disenfranchised citizens and supporting efforts to offer multicultural studies in K-12 education. 

The march's planning coalition was led by ten organizations – including Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Gold House, Sikh American Legal Defense (SALDEF), and Asian and Pacific Islander Vote (APIAVote) – and consisted of more than 50 multicultural partners representing Black, Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized communities.

Kiran Gill, event organizer and Executive Director at SALDEF, said she hopes the march will encourage those in attendance to take the next step and get involved in their community.

“What we really want to get out of this march is for people to A, understand the issues and B, activate where they can,” said Gill. “We will have calls to action around each of these areas that people can mobilize around to engage on the local, state and federal level, because it is through solidarity that these issues can be recognized and addressed.”

The idea to create a march was born after the mass shooting at three spas in Atlanta in March 2021 that left eight dead – six of whom were women of Asian descent – and the FedEx facility shooting in Indianapolis that killed eight the following month – four of whom were members of the city's Sikh community.

“The message that we took away from Atlanta and Indianapolis is that we cannot combat racist and xenophobic violence alone,” said Chang. “So, this cannot be an anti-Asian hate mobilization because what we are up against is a system that in a lot of ways is built on and takes for granted violence against communities of color.”

Chang said these goals can only be achieved by organizing and working together. 

“What I want people to see is that solidarity is not a made-up concept, solidarity is survival,” said Chang.

“The purpose of this is not only to reflect on the last 40 years of Asian American movements, but also to move forward together and ask, what does it look like to rebuild and reestablish the foundation for Asian American activism in a way that recognizes the historical ties and solidarities between Asian American and the Black, Indigenous, Latinx civil rights movements as well?” said Chang.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Solidarity is survival': Crowds gather in Washington for Unity March planned by Asian American leaders

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