Election and Freedom Ride Rally
October 7, 2003
By Kim, DongSuk, from the Coalition for Korean American Voters
for the next presidential election are busy developing policies
and promises to attract voters, creating opportunities
to raise our voice to mainstream politicians. Many interest groups
from ethnic minorities are making every effort to make the most
of it; one of which is the movement among immigrants to rally for
Freedom Ride calls for changes in discriminative policies
against violations of citizen’s due rights and freedom. It
is a campaign against the current policies and practices that challenge
and minority groups everyday. Therefore, it is the duty of the
Korean community to participate in this movement.
Freedom Ride has
historic precedent. It was one method of the civil rights movement,
started in the 1950s, to promote equal rights
for African-Americans. Struggles in Alabama, Mississippi, and North
Carolina successfully put an end to segregation law; however, many
states maintained discriminatory practices, especially in south.
F. Kennedy, elected by a very small margin and with 50 percent
support, was comparably more favorable to African-Americans’ requests
than Richard Nixon. However, it was difficult for him to radically
change policy. It was then that the new president of CORE (Congress
of Racial Equality), James Farmer, brought up the idea of Freedom
An effective method to requesting abolition of segregation
was through sit-in protests in “White-Only” areas.
The participants were comprised of both whites and blacks who volunteered
as protesters and moved around by buses.
Congressman John Lewis, who spoke at the Freedom Ride Rally at
Flushing Meadow Corona Park, was one of the freedom riders in the
1960s, and was lynched by white gangsters and arrested by the police.
Ride became the symbol of non-violence, a form of protest regarded
as a proud heritage for Americans. The current movement
is parallel to this civil rights movement in that the scope now
extends to all minority groups, against limitations and discriminations
of current immigration policy after 9/11.
President Bush, who lost
in states where immigration rates are among the highest, is making
immigrant’s rights a very high
priority in his agenda for re-election. Also, many Republicans
are now surprisingly positioned towards more compromising immigration
Still, Democrats and Republicans share a policy that defines
a clear distinction between citizens and non-citizens for welfare
benefits, whereas citizens and non-citizens are equally responsible
for tax requirements. That is clear discrimination, violating the
spirit of the American Constitution.
Whether Democrat or Republican,
candidates for the 2004 election are not very different from one
other in their frugality in immigration
policy. For voters, it is important to approach politicians to
discuss rights. Gubernatorial campaigns will be held on the east
coast and the Republican Party will have one in Manhattan.
year there are major events and celebrations within the Korean
community. However, it is often limited only to Koreans, despite
the fact that we are living in a very diverse society.
there was a “Korean parade” in Manhattan
and a “Freedom Ride Rally” in Flushing. This non-cooperative
attitude, shown in two different events, brings worry to the people
working for connecting the Korean community with other ethnic groups
to promote immigrant rights.
In a matter of ensuring our survival
through uniting with minority groups and sitting against discrimination,
is much less enthusiastic than other minority groups. We shouldn’t
close our doors to neighbor immigrant groups.
It is wiser for the
Korean community to join the presidential campaign with other
immigrant communities and, through consensus with them,
support a single politician. In elections the voter turnouts,
amount of votes and size of funds matter, and it without cooperation
other groups united for a single purpose, electing a sympathetic
representative will be difficult.
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Translated from Chinese by JooYeon Lee