Founded in 1969 by a group of young activists, CAA has a proud history of achieving social change. For over 40 years CAA has challenged social norms to advance equality, created coalitions that bridge traditional boundaries, and prioritized the needs of our community’s most marginalized members. Our civil rights leadership encompasses over four decades of achievements.
1969 Community activists and students establish Chinese for Affirmative Action to advocate on behalf of Chinese Americans who are systematically denied equal opportunities in many sectors of society.
1970 CAA assists in preparing the landmark US Supreme Court case Lau v. Nichols, which results in bilingual education provisions for growing numbers of Chinese- and Spanish-speaking public school students in San Francisco.
1972 CAA demands bilingual election ballots in San Francisco to comply with new state election code mandating bilingual assistance where a significant need is identified.
1973 CAA joins Officers for Justice and other minority and women groups to challenge discriminatory hiring and promotional practices of the San Francisco Police Department. The lawsuit leads to a dramatic increase in APA police officers.
1975 CAA files a complaint against the largest HMO in Northern California for failing to provide equal access and services to Chinese-speaking patients. The settlement reached through the federal government becomes a model for other bilingual health access programs.
1978 CAA mounts a national campaign to oppose clustering all Asian and Pacific Americans in one racial category in the 1980 Census questionnaire. The Census ultimately lists nine distinct APA groups.
1983 CAA joins a nationwide coalition to protest the brutal murder of Vincent Chin and initiates a campaign with the US Department of Justice urging prosecution of the two men involved in the killing. The case is appealed and retried.
1986 The first of a series of Broken Ladder reports, analyzing the lack of APA representation in management and promotional opportunities in San Francisco civil service, is published. CAA intervenes in the lawsuit against the San Francisco Fire Department to address the under-representation of APAs in the department.
1989 CAA joins nation-wide efforts to stop the regressive Kennedy-Simpson immigration bill, which would have substantially reduced visas and given preference to independent immigrants with English-speaking skills. The second Broken Ladder report, analyzing Asian Americans in city government, is published.
1993 CAA and Latino groups work to intervene in the desegregation lawsuit against the San Francisco Unified School District in order to improve services for educationally disadvantaged minority students, especially low-income and immigrant students.
1995 CAA convinces SFUSD to transform Galileo High School into a magnet Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, benefiting its primarily low-income, minority, immigrant, and limited-English proficient students.
1996 -1998 CAA plays a lead role in coordinating opposition to California Proposition 209, the anti-affirmative action initiative, and Proposition 227’s attack on bilingual education. Staff develop programs to help local businesses and workers overcome the barriers created by 209. To serve the Chinese American community in the rapidly changing Visitacion Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, CAA opens an office in The Village, home to numerous organizations serving the diverse communities of the Valley.
1999 CAA successfully advocates for millions of dollars in state and local funds to support Census 2000 ethnic media coverage and community outreach, aimed at improving the count of usually dramatically under-enumerated APAs and other hard-to-count communities.
2000 CAA combats the racial profiling and incarceration of Dr. Wen Ho Lee through national organizing, supporting legal actions, and media advocacy, including purchase of a full-page ad in the New York Times entitled “Charged with being ethnic Chinese.”
2001 CAA successfully advocates for the passage of the Equal Access to Services Ordinance in San Francisco, requiring key City agencies to provide services to limited-English proficient communities.
2002 A study published by CAA finds a 22% decrease in total dollars awarded to minority/women-owned businesses in seven government agencies after passage of Proposition 209, resulting in a loss of almost $100 million dollars annually to these businesses.
2003 CAA opens the first statewide policy office for Asian and Pacific Americans based in Sacramento. Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality works on issues such as language access, voting rights, equal opportunity, and educational equity. AACRE produces the first Asian and Pacific American Legislative Report Card, reporting on how California state legislators voted on priority issues for Asian and Pacific Americans. CAA teams up with grassroots APA organizations around the state to defeat Proposition 54, which would have banned state and local governments from gathering race and ethnicity data.
2004 CAA launches the Visitacion Valley Parents Association, a community organizing project for limited-English proficient Chinese Americans in Visitacion Valley, focused on parent leadership development to improve public education. CAA releases The Language of Business: Adopting Private Sector Practices to Increase Limited- English Proficient Individuals’ Access to Government Services.
2005 No Parents Left Behind, a CAA report recommending public school improvements in the translation of important written communications into languages parents can understand, leads to new allocations to the California Department of Education to increase resources for translation. CAA and AACRE co-sponsor and get passed the California Hate Crime Civil Remedies Act.
2006 To meet the needs of dislocated garment workers, CAA partners with community groups to expand vocational training and job placement services. CAA publishes Lost Without Translation, a survey report on language barriers faced by LEP parents with children in the San Francisco Unified School District. CAA participates in multiple efforts to combat racist stereotyping and hate speech in the media, as well as to ensure and mobilize a progressive APA voice on issues ranging from protecting Chinese Hospital to comprehensive immigration reform.
2007 CAA successfully advocates for an Office of Language Services in San Francisco, doubles the funding available to support LEP public school parents in San Francisco, and secures funding for a neighborhood workforce center in Chinatown. CAA leads over 100 community groups in the historic community mobilization to win approval for a permanent City College Campus in San Francisco Chinatown to provide generations of immigrant students with equal access to educational opportunities.
2008 To improve public safety and protect immigrants rights, CAA and allies successfully advocate for a San Francisco Police Department General Order on police interactions with LEP residents. To foster the next generation of APA leaders, CAA and API Equality train the first nine Helen Zia Fellows for Social Change to lead social justice campaigns on California college campuses.
2009 CAA publishes Access Deferred: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities, which surveys the experiences of limited-English proficient Chinese- and Spanish-speaking residents when they interact with San Francisco City agencies. Findings from the report help convince San Francisco Supervisors and the Mayor to adopt stronger language access laws in the City. CAA convinces the U.S. Census Bureau to reverse a harmful policy that would have limited communication between Census and U.S. residents on the advance letter–an important notification–to English-only. Through CAA’s efforts, the Census agrees to mail the notification letters in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian.
2010 CAA leads the San Francisco Yes We Count Coalition, a historic multiracial and multicultural collaborative of grassroots organizations, to conduct canvassing in support of the 2010 Census. As a result of the Yes We Count’s work, traditionally undercounted San Francisco neighborhoods achieve major gains in Census participation compared to 2000. CAA releases The Failure of Good Faith, a report that studies and makes recommendations to reform hiring procedures on San Francisco-funded construction projects. Based on the report, CAA mobilizes to help pass one of the strongest mandatory local hiring ordinances in the country. CAA provides critical leadership to address neighborhood safety issues in diverse communities, and helps garner resources and attention to the unique public safety communication needs in and between minority groups.
2012 CAA re-invents and launches Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality as a network of grassroots social justice groups working together to create positive change. The network includes Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, APEX Express, API Equality-Northern California, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, Hyphen, the Network on Religion and Justice, and Visibility Project.
2013 Along with nearly a dozen community organizations throughout San Francisco, CAA launches the Language Access Network of San Francisco to improve the accessibility of public services for limited-English proficient residents.