Asian Americans are gaining representation in city councils across the country.
The 2021 elections proved to be a triumph for many immigrant communities. In addition to the historic wins of Michelle Wu in Boston and Aftab Pureval in Cincinnati, Abdullah Hammoud became the City of Dearborn’s first Arab American and Muslim mayor.
During his victory speech on Tuesday night, Hammoud said, “For those of you who were ever made to feel that their names were unwelcome and to our parents and to our elders and to others who are humiliated for their broken English and yet still persist today is proof that you are as American as anyone else.”
The NYC council also welcomed 5 new Asian Americans, a record that mirrors the city more accurately, NBC reports. The cohort included two Korean Americans, Julie Won and Linda Lee, as well as a Cambodian American, Sandra Ung. The other councilmembers included the first South American, Shekar Krishnan, and the first Bangladeshi-Muslim American, Shahana Hanif.
“We deserve a city that protects its most vulnerable residents, a city that provides fair education, a city that invests in local and community-driven climate solutions, and a city where our immigrant neighbors feel welcome, heard, and protected,” Hanif said in a statement released on Tuesday night. “Even if the election is done, this task demands all of us to keep turning up.”
These victories were achieved by young, progressive housing organizers, public advocates, and civil rights lawyers—most of whom are women and children of working-class immigrants.
Howard Shih, a research and policy director for the Asian American Federation, told NBC, “This unprecedented level of representation in local politics can have a tremendous impact on the lives of underprivileged Asian New Yorkers.”
Another major victory also happened in Duluth, Minnesota. Azrin Awal, a 25-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh, became the first Muslim elected to the city. Awal’s grassroots campaign focused on inclusion, affordable housing, and climate issues. The campaign surpassed its fundraising goal of $20,000 and raised more than $27,000. Awal said her grassroots campaign raised one of the highest amounts in Duluth history.
“It’s not just a monumental moment for me but every single person on my team,” Awal told the Sahan Journal. “With sharing our stories and being present in the community—that’s how far we’ve taken the needle. We’ve moved it to allow people to become more open and understanding.”
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