JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Today, the State of Missouri hosted the second annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration.
The virtual celebration featured a fireside chat with former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Transportation Elaine Chao, as well as remarks from Governor Mike Parson, Missouri Department of Labor Director Anna Hui and other state government employees.
Governor Parson welcomed everyone to the celebration and highlighted the importance of recognizing the rich heritage of Asian Pacific Americans.
Director Hui, the first Asian American to serve in the governor’s cabinet in Missouri history, introduced Secretary Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Labor. Director Hui joined Secretary Chao in a fireside chat to discuss her distinguished career.
“When we considered what to include in this year’s celebration, we wanted to offer our colleagues a program that could inspire and renew our commitment to public service,” Director Hui said. “I could think of no better person than Secretary Chao, whose many years of exemplary public service, legendary devotion to family and trailblazing leadership truly illustrate the art of the possible.”
Secretary Chao, the first Asian American woman appointed to the president’s cabinet, reflected over the fireside chat on her journey, which began as a young child unable to speak any English coming to America, then culminated in her becoming one of the most prominent women leaders in the country.
“It has been one of the greatest joys in life to help others fulfill their potential, and for them to realize wonderful lives of contribution to our country,” Secretary Chao said. “For those who have endured hardship, take heart because those hardships actually make you a better leader. You become more empathetic, you understand other people more, you can explain things in a more relatable way because you’ve been through hardship yourself. That’s why I’ve always fought for everyone who has been underserved or vulnerable to be able to access greater opportunities in mainstream America, for themselves and for their families.”
In addition to remarks from officials, the event included a number of performances celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. Theda Chen Dolph performed the national anthem on the pipa (traditional Chinese stringed instrument), students performed a traditional South Asian Indian dance at the University of Missouri's Diwali celebration and Dr. Alphonso Sanders, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lincoln University in Jefferson City played a medley of songs on the Dizi, a Chinese bamboo flute.
Missouri’s monthlong celebration pays tribute to generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched the state’s history and continue to be instrumental in its future success. This year’s celebration was coordinated by members of the Office of the Governor, the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the Missouri Office of Administration, the Missouri Department of Revenue, and the Missouri Department of Social Services.