AAPI Equity Alliance (AAPI Equity) is dedicated to improving the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through civic engagement, capacity building, and policy advocacy.
Before the Beginning of AAPI Equity
The history of social services in the Asian American community has a relatively brief timeframe. Although social services were being conducted by ethnic churches and other welfare service programs (such as the Shonien Children’s Orphanage, which began in the Japanese American community in the early 1900’s), the concept of an Asian American federation or umbrellas of services is relatively new.
As an aftermath of the 1965 Watts Riots and as a part of the free-expression spirit of the 60’s, there was an awakening to the need for service programs in the API community, although back then, API’s were still referred to as “Orientals”.
The first Asian American federation was the Council of Oriental Organizations (COO) which was formed by staff of the County Human Relations Commission in 1968. COO organized the first gathering of API’s at a conference called “Asians Coming Together I or ACT I” which took place at UCLA in July of 1968 and formed the basis to begin seeking funding and programming to serve the API communities.
At that time, there were very few groups serving the API community, but soon, new groups began to form. SSG had been around since the 1950’s, but in the 1970’s, many new groups began to form. These include such agencies as: Chinatown Service Center, PACE, AADAP, KYCC, and ARS. Others formed early but later faded away. It was within this environment of new groups forming and coalescing to form an Asian American federation that A3PCON was born.
In January 1975, there was a meeting called Pacific Asians Coming Together (PACT) which was a followup to ACT I. PACT was called to organize the API communities and a number of committees were formed. This effort eventually led towards the creation of APPCON.
AAPI Equity Timeline
1976-77 – Asian Pacific Planning Council (APPCON) is born. After PACT, a number of API CBO staff, and public agency staff (mostly from the County) began meeting monthly at a information sharing time called the Asian Lunch Bunch. They discussed service needs such as the lack of bilingual services at DPSS, and County Probation. The Lunch Bunch became formalized into the Asian Pacific Planning Council, or APPCON, which as an acronym didn’t really make sense.
1978 – Around this time, Ron Wakabayashi who was then employed by AADAP is elected the first President of APPCON, and health and mental health committees are formed. At this time, county programs such as DPSS, Health, Mental Health, Probation and LAPD could not service API languages; this became a major initial focus for APPCON, and very likely, its major accomplishment over the years.
1980 – Royal Morales, Executive Director of the Asian American Mental Health Training Program is elected the next President of APPCON. APPCON was instrumental in getting the Asian Unit formed at DPSS, and helped in the formation of APCTC at County Mental Health. APPCON is also active in organizing for the 1980 Census, and in supporting the JA Redress movement which was just beginning.