Last week, Latinitas celebrated its twentieth anniversary at the Latinitas Purple Party for Chica Power Gala. As part of the annual fundraiser, Latinitas chooses six courageous female leaders to honor. The women that were chosen all have incredible stories and immense accolades, but what sets them apart is the passion they bring to their field. I got the opportunity to sit down with four of our honorees, and this is what I learned from our Public Leadership Honoree, Alice Ming Fei Yi. Alice is an incredible activist, who founded the Texas Chapter of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association and is a chairperson of the Austin Asian community Civic Coalition, as well as a true embodiment of the American Dream. When I spoke to her, I was struck by the love and care she has for this country. Alice immigrated from China to the United States in 1981. Like many immigrants, Alice has a deep respect for the United States. She wants to see it, and its people, flourish.
Her cultural upbringing played a huge role in the values she still holds to this day. Alice is a firm believer in working hard and had been working since the age of 13. She knew nothing was handed to her and understood the importance of humbling yourself, “Our philosophy is to lift and to help others to share the American value with the community.” But growing up wasn’t always easy. Alice spoke about wanting to shy away, and seeing that reflected in the other Asian immigrants as well, “I faced social injustice. When I was a very young age, I watched my parents was mistreated, was criminalized for no reason. I learned to be quiet, to working hard. This is the most Asian, most Chinese, families do and that time this is the only way to survive when I grow up back then.”
While Alice is currently an activist, like many immigrants she came to the United States with an entrepreneurial spirit. She always believed she was meant to be a businesswoman and would work with the community during her free time. It wasn’t until the passing of her late husband that she was truly inspired to get involved. He always stressed the importance of showing up for the community, for representation, and when he passed Alice felt that responsibility shift to her. Alice’s intense passion and life story came through in every word she spoke. In a time where people can feel discouraged like change is impossible, Alice has this unwavering belief that our young people are the change, “To all these young people…We need you working together to save our country, not going backward. To save the woman’s rights, to save the voting rights, to save the clean environment, and to save the innocent young lives. To not to get gun violence anymore. We need your voice and your engagement involvement more than ever.”
Alice, and her late husband, spent their lives doing good for their community. But, now it’s time for young people to step up. Alice stresses how just like this responsibility shifted onto her, it’s shifting onto us, “You [were] not born yet. When older generation fought for human rights and the voting rights. But you are here today to need to continue their legacy and to protect those rights, they have fought for…They lost blood for it. So this is your mission. And I have expectations for our young people.” Her voice shook with emotion, and it was clear she was holding back.
This is a woman who, despite years of public service, still believes change is possible. She’s not jaded by our current climate in any way, if anything she’s inspired by the young people at protests, by the woman fighting for equality, by the changes that are slow but present. Alice doesn’t see the future as a set thing. She sees all the issues of the world and believes they’re fixable, malleable. And that, especially knowing her life journey, is truly encouraging.
If you’re curious to learn more about Alice’s story, or even the honorees I didn’t get the chance to meet such as Entrepreneurship Honoree Angela Angulo and Education Honoree Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, you can learn more about them and how to get involved with the Purple Party Gala at https://www.latinitaspurpleparty.com/. If you’d like to listen to my full conversations with the incredible women I did get to meet, check out our podcast Unrepresented on Spotify and all other podcast services right now.