Generations of Change :: Pam Tau Lee
Period of involvement: 1972 to current
Share a proud moment or work that you did with CPA: In 1972 I was a 24 years old, wild, crazy Asian young person who would be forever transformed by the 1972 political and social dynamics of that moment. I was a student “regular” at the International Hotel, deep into the Asian anti-war movement, and joined the New Left. In 1972 I was organizing in Oakland Chinatown and was also a student organizer with the Bay Area Asian Student Union. The activities leading to the formation of CPA was a “Bay Area” happening. The Lo Wah Que of SF Chinatown and young Asian activists united to hammer out the purpose and work of a community mass organization. After months of meetings, CPA was officially founded on December 26, 1972.
What are you doing now – in your work and in your life? I am the board chair of CPA; am also semi-retired and teaching at SF City College in the Bayview.
Why are you supporting CPA now? I am fortunate to have been around for almost all of CPA’s 40 years. On and off I have been on the Steering Committee later to be re-named Board of Directors. I was also present when CPA transitioned from volunteer to paid staff. While these changes may seem dramatic, I can assure you the essence and the heart of what CPA stood for 40 years ago is today is still rock solid.
On May 15th, as Board Chair, I was fortunate to address CPA’s adult Leadership Institute graduation class. The majority of these 22 individuals first came to CPA in need of help. They were being “screwed” by their employer, lost their jobs due to off shoring, or were residents living in substandard housing. Over time they continued to come by CPA to attend meetings and later volunteer for projects. On May 15th, they completed a program that has equipped them to be leaders. What a transformation! They are bringing to life the hopes and dreams of the original Lo Wah Que. To quote from the original proclamation “One seeks change when one has nothing, and when one seeks change everything can be solved. In Chinatown change is urgently needed…. We have grouped together to work for basic changes in our community. This is the basis for forming the Chinese Progressive Association.”