Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Ground Breaking Ceremony

Last Thursday, June 19, 2008, a ground breaking ceremony for the Little Saigon Gate was held and attended by about 200 people, including the city manager and City Supervisor Chris Daly.

The gate will be paid mostly by the city (the total cost is about $108,000). The Little Saigon district is 12 blocks long on Larkin Street running north and south from McAllister Street to Geary Blvd. It is one block away from San Francisco City Hall and Civic Center Plaza.

In a city of 766,000 people, the Vietnamese-Americans constitute about 2% of the population. However, their economic and cultural contributions to revitalize a once debilating segment of town was recognized by the city in September of 2003 when the board of supervisors unanimously voted to name the 12 blocks area Little Saigon.

In contrast, the Little Saigon naming effort in San Jose drew nation wide attention for its controversy. In a city where 10% of the population is Vietnamese-American, a Vietnamese-American city councilmember (Madison Nguyen) elected by her own people decided to go against the wish of the majority of the community. Despite the economic, cultural and political contributions of the Vietnamese-Americans to the city for the last 30 years, the city council voted against the name Little Saigon. After 5 months of weekly protest in front of city hall, a hunger strike and a threat of a civil right lawsuit that paralyzed the city government, the city council gave in but refused to financially support the building of a welcoming gate at a cost of about $150,000 - $200,000.

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SB 895 - Establish a Vietnamese-American Refugee Experience Curriculum in School

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