- More than 60 partner organizations including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Indian American Impact Project, and South Asians for America, among others, helped with the event.
Representatives from several multicultural and Asian American organizations hosted the first-ever Unity March on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 25. It aimed to demand action from political leaders to put a stop to violence against Asian Americans and other marginalized groups. Billed as the first national rally to be led by Asian Americans, the historic event also included members of other historically marginalized groups, including Black, Indigenous, Latino and disability communities.
The crowd attending the march was diverse in both race and age, The Washington Post reported. Many waved handmade signs with messages such as “Not your model minority,” “Stop AAPI hate” and “Protect Asian women.” Several speakers and performers took to the stage to dispel “model minority” myths, that all Asian Americans are successful, which have pitted them against other racial groups, The Post report said. “They also shared family history and urged attendees to vote.”
A group of young South Asian college-aged women interning in D.C. for the summer also spoke to The Post. Ria Agarwal, 19, told the daily that the event was “a way to bring attention to the fact that hate crimes against Asian Americans are not just random acts of violence, but patterns that need to be broken.” She and her friends also “expressed gratitude for events like the Unity March to bring together Asian Americans from across communities,” said The Post. “We were all sort of operating in silos before,” said Agarwal. “I think that this kind of protest has really led us to realize that we’re all connected.”
More than 60 partner organizations including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Indian American Impact Project, and South Asians for America, among others, helped with the event.
In a Facebook post, SAFA lauded the “many team members who showed up in force from around the country, to stand in community and solidarity with so many Asian American, immigrant and BIPOC Allies advocating for a better future free from hate and violence.” The group expressed gratitude to the Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and (AAJC), “for all their tireless efforts in putting together today’s event and inviting groups like SAFA to be partners in solidarity.”
SAFA also gave a shoutout to the “many leaders from so many allied and partner organizations that are doing such incredible work,” including Chanda Parbhoo of SAAVETX; Kiran Kaur Gill of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Sim J. Singh of The Sikh Coalition, Mala Patel from the tristate chapter of the Asian American Action Fund; Nisha Ramachandran from Desis for Progress; and Sudanshu Kaushik from North American Association of Indian Students. “In the current climate of rising hate against AANHPI community, today was an inspiring reminder that we belong, and we stand strong, United in community and solidarity,” the SAFA post added.
The idea for the march was prompted by shootings at Atlanta spas that left six Asian women dead in March 2021, Tiffany Chang, director of community engagement at Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) told The Washington Post. “We felt that it was time for us to do something big and visible in our community.”
On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old White man, engaged in a shooting spree at three spas, killing eight people, of whom six were Asian women. Long was later sentenced to life in prison.
Citing FBI data, she told The Post that in 2020, hate crimes targeting Asian Americans jumped from 158 to 274, an increase of almost 74 percent. “The number of hate crimes rose to its highest level in over a decade the same year, amid increased violence toward Asians during the pandemic.”
The march also comes during the 40th anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American man who was beaten by two White men outside a bar near Detroit, and whose death spurred a movement for civil rights among Asian Americans.