HomeAsian AmericansElaine Chao calls for Asian American Museum during Harvard forum

Elaine Chao calls for Asian American Museum during Harvard forum

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao called for the creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture during a Harvard Institute of Politics forum on Tuesday, reports the Harvard Crimson.

During the discussion, which was moderated by Harvard Business School senior lecturer John D. Macomber, Chao called for the museum to be built along Washington’s National Mall, where many of the country’s Smithsonian Museums are located.

Chao, the first Asian American woman to serve in the U.S. Cabinet, emphasized the need for such a museum on Washington’s National Mall to promote tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of Asian Americans’ history and culture.

“It’s got to be on the National Mall because respect is very important,” she said, according to the Harvard Crimson.

This is not the first time Chao has spoken out in support of creating an Asian American Museum on the National Mall. In May 2023, she wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on the topic.

“Some might question why a museum is needed for Asian Americans specifically,” Chao wrote. “I would answer that Asian Americans were once targeted with legislation banning them from becoming American citizens. Even though this legislation has long since been repealed, the lingering aftereffects of this discrimination can still be felt.”

At the forum, Chao highlighted the urgency of acknowledging and celebrating Asian Americans’ contributions to American history, particularly in the face of increased anti-Asian hate stemming from strained U.S.-China relations.

“This community before has been relatively reserved, quiet, and now understands the importance of speaking up, finding their voice, and making known their concerns,” Chao told the Harvard Crimson.

Additionally, Chao shared her personal story as a Taiwanese immigrant and her family’s pursuit of the American dream. She recounted her family’s courageous 37-day journey across the Pacific Ocean to New York when she was eight years old, shedding light on their belief in America’s promise of greater opportunities, even though they didn’t know precisely what awaited them.

“My parents have a great deal of courage because they came to America armed only with their dreams and their belief in this country,” Chao recalled during the IOP forum. “They knew that this country would give their daughters so much more opportunity, yet they didn’t know what these opportunities were.”

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