Dr. Esther S. Lee was invited to attend the celebration of OCA/Houston Chapter's 35th year of anniversary in Houston on September 19, 2014.
Dr. Esther S. Lee was invited to attend the celebration of OCA/Houston Chapter's 35th year of anniversary in Houston on September 19, 2014. She is the founder of OCA/Chapter that was established in 1979. She made the following remarks regarding why and how the chapter was founded at the banquet.
Ladies and gentlemen,
What a joy and blessing to share this significant milestone with y’all tonight! I am very proud of your accomplishments since I founded OCA/Houston chapter 35 years ago. You have not only grown taller but also wider by reaching out to other non-Chinese American groups with a broader agenda.
Because of the time constraints, without further delay, I’d better focus on my assignment by telling you the story of why and how OCA/Houston chapter began in spring 1979.
Like many other Chinese immigrants in the US at that time, I was raised in Taiwan and firmly against the Communist China on the mainland. When President Jimmy Carter suddenly recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) without consulting Chinese community leaders, I was shocked and angry like other Chinese immigrants in the US. Many right-wing and pro Republic of China in Taiwan went to downtown Houston to protest President Carter’s abrupt decision and Deng Xiao ping’s visit to Houston. Yet, I did not participate in the demonstration because I believed it was our own fault. How could any president consult the Chinese if we were not visible and influential within his administration? We needed to reflect and take actions. Being a professor of multicultural education, I had learned of the successful political struggle of the Jewish and Japanese Americans. I knew that any modern US president would not have taken any major diplomatic move without consulting the Jewish leaders or input from the Jewish community. So, I started searching for a nationwide Chinese civil and non-partisan organization that could voice our interests and concerns.
Finally, I found the national OCA with its HQ in Washington, DC and contacted its president, K. L. Wong. He was delighted about my interest. Soon, I received the information from Hayden Lee, the Executive Director of OCA on February 26, 1979 regarding the procedure of forming the Houston Chapter. I hoped through OCA to generate more impact collectively on American policy toward China, as it related to the life of Chinese Americans. The first meeting of the local chapter was held on July 4th, 1979. It’s a challenge for me because normally one would speak his/her native tongue with fellow countrymen. Since I had reached out to those American born Chinese who spoke only English I had to conduct meetings in English, my second language. I asked Mr. William Derbing, a community leader, to serve as the first chapter president (1979-80) because of his seniority and his prior knowledge of OCA. I succeeded Mr. Derbing for 1980-81 and became a national board member. Mrs. Laura Chiu was after me for 1981-82.
For those of you who are interested in conducting a research project of OCA history, I have the scanned documents for you including events, press release, newspaper clippings, correspondence, meeting minutes and financial records. Please feel free to contact me at 765-247-1020 for any additional questions or information.
Keep taking actions and make differences. May the force be with ya’ll. Thank you very much.