Over 20 State and National AAPI Leaders and Organizations Sign Letter Urging Gov. Newsom to Recognize Lunar New Year

The letter requests Newsom’s support for Assembly Bill 2596, which would make California the first state in the country to recognize an Asian holiday


SAN FRANCISCO – On Friday, September 23, Stand with Asian Americans (SWAA) and 24 state and national leaders representing Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) across California called for Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature of Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2596, which would establish Lunar New Year as a state holiday. The bill would grant official recognition of a holiday already observed by AANHPI communities in California, home to the nation’s largest AANHPI population expected to further quadruple over the next 15 years. Due to state deadlines, Governor Newsom has until September 30th to sign the bill.


“California is home to the country’s largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander population but has yet to recognize an official holiday that celebrates their culture,” said Justin Zhu, executive director of Stand with Asian Americans, which took part in drafting the letter. “Governor Newsom’s signing of AB 2596 will be one step in the right direction to recognize the contributions, innovation, and culture that AANHPI’s provide to California and the country.”


Beyond tangible benefits, A.B. 2596 would signify a significant social and cultural milestone for California, whose AANHPI population remains severely underrepresented across state government, corporate leadership, and media. They also experienced a 1662% increase in anti-Asian hate speech in 2020 compared to 2019 and a 339% increase in hate crimes since the onset of the pandemic. Yet AANHPIs increased their voter turnout rate faster than any other racial group between the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections, a tangible expression of their rapidly growing civic engagement and role in civic life.


According to the letter, “California has the opportunity to be the leader in addressing hate and fostering AANHPI belonging.  Establishing a state holiday to recognize the contributions and history of the AANHPI community would be monumental for millions of AANHPIs.”


The signatories include the following activist leaders and organizations:


  • Justin Zhu, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Stand with Asian Americans

  • Natassia Kwan, AAPI Activist

  • Dillon Yang, President and Alice Hu, Director of National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association

  • Lisa P. Mak, President of Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area

  • Richard Konda, Executive Director of Asian Law Alliance

  • Deanna Kwong, President of Asian American Bar Association of Silicon Valley

  • Chun-Yen Chen, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Community Fund

  • Adrienne Pon, Interim Executive Director of Asian Pacific Fund

  • Mina Fedor, Executive Director of AAPI Youth Rising

  • Julia Liou, Ceo of Asian Health Services

  • Lily Ko, Treasurer of Be Chinatown San Francisco

  • Brian Quan, President of Chinese American Democratic Club

  • Jonathan Sit, Leadership Committee Member of Chinatown Volunteer Coalition

  • Walter Wong, President of Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association

  • Justin Hoover, Executive Director of Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA)

  • Christina Chen, Volunteer Leader of Compassion in Oakland

  • Amy Lee, Founder of Dear Community

  • Jeremy Tran, Executive Director of Gold House

  • Hyepin Im, President, CEO and Founder of Faith and Community Empowerment

  • Timothy Kim, Executive Director of Korean American Community Foundation of San Francisco

  • Carl Chan, President of Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce

  • Julia Quon, Co-Founder of Save Cantonese at CCSF

  • Dennis Wu, Chair of SF CAUSE

  • Mark Young, Co-Founder of Stand with Asians

  • Chanchanit Martorell, Executive Director of Thai Community Development Center

  • Karen Dea, President of Wa Sung Community Service Club