A Dedication to My Father: Youth & Activism

My father had an interest in architecture and after two years in community college and earning his associates degree, he attended UC Berkeley's school of architecture. He arrived in the late 60s when students were protesting against the Vietnam War and other social issues of the time. Dad was focused on his studies, training to be a draftsman, and proudly graduated from his program. 

My father was in his 20s and during the late 60s/70s, it was the period in his life he became an activist engaged in Leftist politics. To avoid the draft, he became a VISTA volunteer. Moving from California to Waterbury, Connecticut, dad became more politically active while working with African American mothers who were on welfare and living in the public projects. He witnessed the racist injustices that put these mothers into perpetual poverty. During this time, he met his best friend and now my stepfather, David, who was engaged in protesting the Vietnam War. Later on, they moved to the East Village in the early 70s. My father met my mother through political meetings in Chinatown.

Dad became more politically engaged because of his personal experience with racism and the hypocrisy of the American government, who had uprooted his family and many others to internment camps ("relocation centers", aka concentration camps) during WWII . He wanted to prevent this from happening to my mother, his Chinese American wife, due to the growing adversarial relationship between the USA and China. He truly believed that the internment camp could happen again to his family and his future offspring.

He met many political activist during this time, who had influenced the way he looked at life, his politics, and at the increased creeping of fascism in this country. He read up on political collectivism, the Nearings, James and Grace Lee Bogg's, Mary Kochiyama, Malcolm X, Black Panthers, and many important writers of the time. He was recruited by community leaders because he had charisma to organize and lead. He was involved in many student demonstrations, including in Columbia University, and organized political forums.

With these experiences, he came to a conclusion that forming a collective with political minded persons, who had specific skills, could be an answer to spread and live the progressive political ideas he desired to be a part of.