Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz joined Councilwomen Sandra Ung and Linda Lee on Wednesday, Jan. 18, for a special celebration in honor of the Lunar New Year at the Student Union Building at Queensborough Community College in Bayside.
Ung escaped the Cambodian genocide as a child, and her family emigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old. Now she represents Flushing with its enormous Asian American population. She said she is proud to see how many Lunar New Year celebrations she sees around the city compared to when she first arrived in Queens.
“Lunar New Year — it is still the most important holiday for my entire family,” Ung told the crowd. “It is so important that we recognize the Lunar New Year for what it is, and that’s why I introduced a resolution to ask the federal government to pass a bill to make Lunar New Year a federal holiday.”
Before joining the City Council, Ung served in government on the city, state and federal levels, most recently in the office of Congresswoman Grace Meng.
“It is hard every year working to get ready for the holidays. So we should be able to have the holiday off and get ready for what is still the most important holiday for our Asian American community,” Lee said.
In her remarks, Lee said she was proud that the event was held at Queensborough Community College, located in her district.
“I just wanted to say how meaningful it is. It is such an amazing opportunity and I’m very honored,” she said. “To all the first generation that came here before us and really laid the foundation for us, which is why we’re able to be here today, and so this is not a story that starts with me, I’m just one part of the journey.”
Before she became the first Korean American woman elected to the Council, Lee was the president and CEO of Korean Community Services, the city’s first community-based social service organization focused on the Korean community. Korean Community Services was honored during the program along with the NYPD’s Asian Jade Society, Glow Cultural Center and Alan Ong of the Panel for Educational Policy.
Students from P.S. 203 performed traditional Korean drumming.
“It is a gift that this school is giving to you. They are amazing, they are fun, they are confident and they are strong, and they celebrate their heritage,” Katz said. “They celebrate their parents, they celebrate the parents before them, and they celebrate the countries they are from while still making sure they assimilate to the United States of America.”
Before the program closed out with a traditional Chinese dance performed by Christine Zhang, Katz spoke of the impact such celebrations have on the youth.
“We’re not just handing down our traditions to the next generation,” Katz said. “We are also making sure that [the kids] know people care deeply about their future and that’s how we keep Queens safe because keeping these kids out of the courtroom, to begin with is the most important thing we can do for this great borough of Queens County.”