The Pan-Asian Voter Empowerment Coalition, a coalition of Asian American organizations from across the Chicago area, will come together in Springfield on Tuesday to advocate for legislation to meet the community’s needs.
More than 300 people are expected to make the trip to participate in the Asian American Action Day event at the Illinois State Capitol.
This year marks the first time Asian American Action Day is being held in person since the COVID-19 pandemic when communities were seeing a rise in anti-Asian hate and violence.
“There is a lot more public awareness of some of the issues that Asian Americans face, but to be honest, there’s still a lot of lack of understanding about the diversity of our community and the kind of range of experiences that people have,” said Grace Pai, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago.
The PAVE Coalition consists of 16 Asian American advocacy and direct service organizations, representing a wide range of communities.
One of the key pieces of legislation the coalition is advocating for is the Language Equity & Access Act, which aims to lift language barriers people have to accessing and receiving vital services through state agencies.
Vân Huynh, executive director of the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, said community organizations stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide information when communities were facing language barriers to information about ways they could protect themselves.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we definitely saw the impact on our community,” Huynh said. “Even as English speakers we saw just how chaotic and confusing it could be. Imagine doing that in another language.”