Organization of Chinese Americans
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2012)|
|Motto||Embracing the hopes and aspirations of Asian Pacific Americans|
|Purpose/focus||"To advance the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States."|
|Membership||Representing over 10,000 people (Affiliate, College Affiliates, Young OCA, OCA Young Professionals, General membership)|
|Key people||Sharon Wong (President)
Tom Hayashi Executive Director
|Remarks||First and only national Pan-Asian Pacific American civil rights organization headquartered in D.C.|
Founded in 1973, OCA (previously known as the Organization of Chinese Americans) is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States. OCA aims to embrace the hopes and aspirations of nearly 12 million Asian Pacific Americans in the United States. In 2013, the National Board of Directors has formally passed a resolution to change its name to OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates to reflect a more expansive mission to represent the pan-ethnic interests of the community.
The OCA National Center is located in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. and serves as the headquarters for OCA. The national office and staff monitor legislation and policy issues affecting Asian Pacific Americans. In addition, OCA is able to build national support and to work in coalition with other national groups around issues affecting Asian Pacific Americans.
OCA takes no collective position on the politics of any foreign country, but instead focuses on the welfare and civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.
In 2013, the National Board of Directors has formally passed a resolution to change its name to OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates to reflect a more expansive mission of a national civil rights organization for all Asian Pacific Americans.
The goals of OCA are to:
- Advocate for social justice, equal opportunity and fair treatment;
- Promote civic participation, education, and leadership;
- Advance coalitions and community building; and
- Foster cultural heritage.
To achieve these goals, OCA is engaged in organizing its 80 chapters and affiliates across the nation to develop both leadership and community involvement. OCA chapters and our organizational and college affiliates are establishing strong local programs in all parts of the country.
In 1973, OCA catalyzed into being with the vision of uniting Chinese Americans across the United States into one representative voice. Interest and concern had been stirring in different pockets of the country since the late 1980s. The movement started to grow as numbers of the Chinese American communities began to rally together. Many OCA leaders deserve recognition. However, Kung-Lee (K.L.) Wang is one individual who was instrumental in the creation of OCA. There was a recognized need for a group to be a voice for Chinese Americans as the NAACP and the JACL were for their respective ethnic groups. While this vision of a united representative voice was shared with all founding members, more importantly, they decided to focus on Chinese American issues and concerns in the U.S., instead of the divisive issues concerning their "homeland."
With this vision and strong determination, in September 1971, K. L. Wang and others established the Chinese American Leadership Council, the precursor to OCA, in Washington, DC. K.L. Wang then personally traveled through many cities in the U.S. to promote a national advocacy organization for Chinese Americans. In November 1971, at the urging of K.L. Wang, Alex Mark chaired a steering committee to establish a national organization for Chinese Americans in Detroit. By February 1972, the Association of Chinese Americans was established and incorporated in Detroit, with Alex Mark as its first president.
A group of about 20 Chinese Americans in the St. Louis community gathered for their first meeting with K.L. Wang in late 1971. As a result, the League of Chinese Americans was formed in St. Louis in early 1972. Shortly thereafter, the bylaws were adopted and William Chang was elected its first president. On May 3, 1973, invitation letters to join OCA were signed by Alex Mark and K.L. Wang and sent to Detroit, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Washington, DC and other Chinese American communities. Pauline Tsui of Washington, DC, served as the convention committee chair. Anna Chennault was instrumental in recruiting support from Congress and the Administration.
The first National Convention was held on June 9, 1973, which became the official inception date of OCA. One hundred twelve delegates from across the nation attended the convention, in which the constitution, bylaws and the name of the organization were adopted. K.L. Wang was elected as its first national president. The Association of Chinese Americans in Detroit, while retaining its name, became a chapter. The original OCA in Washington, DC evolved as a distinct chapter with Harry Woo as its first president. The League of Chinese Americans in St. Louis also joined in becoming one of the three founding chapters of OCA.
OCA has over 50 chapters across the United States. Each chapter develops its own outreach programs ranging conducting educational seminars and operating Chinese language schools to spearheading voter registration drives. OCA chapters address a number of issues including inaccurate media portrayals of APAs, failed employment practices, hate crimes, and educational access.
2009: Miley Cyrus Incident
In early 2009, a photograph of Miley Cyrus circulated online in which she had the corners of her eyes pulled back, displaying a slant-eyed expression, while friends, including an Asian male, surrounding her posed in other manners. OCA was one of the first groups to respond to the photograph, by offering criticism and disapproval, hoping that "...Miley Cyrus will apologize to her fans and the APA community for this lapse in judgment and takes the opportunity to better understand why the gesture is offensive." A few days later Miley responded on her website defending her actions, saying that "in NO way was I making fun of any ethnicity!"  OCA Executive Director George Wu responded to Miley's response, by adding that, "It's not a real apology. We’re not backing down without a fuller apology." 
OCA annually holds the largest conference completely dedicated to APA issues every year and has done so since 1973. At convention, unsung heroes of the APA community are recognized, in addition to summer interns, exemplary local chapters, sponsors, and current individuals making a difference in the APA community. Past recognized individuals and speakers have included former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Youtube co-founder Steve Chen, and Congressman Mike Honda.
The 2011 OCA National Convention will be held in New York City, New York on August 4–7, 2011,[dated info] with the theme of "Advocacy Through Compassion - A New York State of Mind". The 2011 convention will be honoring BD Wong, Tammy Duckworth, and Dr. Bobby Fong.
APIA U: Leadership 101
Every Fall and Spring semester OCA, with the sponsorship of State Farm, visits colleges and universities to conduct a college leadership training program for Asian Pacific American (APA) student leaders and activists. This unique[peacock term] training keeps in mind the viewpoints and experiences of APIAs and students of color. The program focuses on the development of leadership and organizational skills that are relevant to APA campuses and communities.
The interactive college leadership training program involves hands-on exercises, small group discussions, and presentations led by two qualified APIA facilitators. The one day training assembles 60 students from each region and focuses on self-awareness, team-building, and direct action organizing. Participants will be asked to challenge themselves, share their experiences, and develop leadership tools in order to effectively serve as catalysts for change.
OCA Internship Program
The OCA internship program was first established in 1989 and has been a flagship component of OCA's involvement with college youth. The internship program enables college interns to learn firsthand about national issues and policies that affect Asian Pacific Americans in Washington, DC. In particular, the competitive summer program is known for attracting the best and brightest college students, as it is a 10 week long program that places interns on Capitol Hill, at federal agencies, or at non-profit organizations (particularly APIA affiliated organizations).
In the past, the summer program has offered interns the opportunity to participate in brown bag lunches on key issues affecting Asian Pacific Americans such as immigration reform and health care, and has included visits to congressional office buildings, where interns meet with representatives, APA staffers, and members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Interns have also met with members of various government agencies such as the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of Defense, and even White House staff members and directors to discuss issues concerning civil rights and voting rights, especially as it pertains to the APIA community. In addition, summer interns have also assisted the OCA National staff and the host OCA chapter staff at the annual OCA National Convention.
The main internship placements are:
- The OCA National Office (Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring)
- Capitol Hill (Summer only)
- Federal Agencies (Summer only)
- Non-Profits (Summer only)
For over 10 years, OCA has provided assistance to deserving APA students achieve the ultimate dream of a college education. OCA partners with UPS, Verizon, and the AXA Foundation to offer a diverse group of scholarships based on the criteria of achievement and financial need.
College Affiliate Program (CAP)
OCA recognizes the need to support college student organizations and their communities, as they are the next wave of APIA leaders. In carrying out its mission, OCA has established the College Affiliate Program (CAP) to help provide foundations for networking, coalition building and activism in Asian Pacific America.
B3: Aspiring APA Professionals Program
This program aims to provide relevant professional development, peer networking and mentoring to aspiring APA professionals; expand BAC engagement, best practices and mentoring; and leverage venue for corporate employee resource group.
It was recently launched in the Fall of 2009.
A Portrait of Chinese Americans
In 2009, OCA and the Asian American Studies Program of the University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP) through a unique national nonprofit-academic partnership, present A Portrait of Chinese Americans. The portrait provides a 64-page, full color portrayal and analyzes the latest statistics, charts, tables, and maps about the diversity of Chinese Americans. The top eight Chinese American metropolitan areas have profiles that include voices from these communities, maps showing Chinese American concentrations from 1970 to 2000, and future projections of Asian Americans in year 2012.
APIA Scholarship, Internship, and Fellowship Directory
In July 2009, OCA, in collaboration with the JACL, State Farm, and the Asian American Studies Program of UMCP, launched the 2009-2011 National Directory of Scholarships, Internships, and Fellowships for Asian American and Pacific Islander Students. The Directory provided a 140-page, full-color description of the mission, criteria, award amount, period, application deadline, and contact information of each scholarship, internship, and fellowship for Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Following the scholarship directory is an introduction to resources and tips for college students. The directory can also be obtained online at UMCP's Asian American Studies Program website.
- Helen Zia, Asian American scholar and civil rights activist
- Judy Chu, Congresswoman of California's 32nd congressional district
- Mike Honda, Congressman of California's 15th congressional district
- Christina Hsu, The Amazing Race Season 12 and Season 18 contestant, 2000 OCA Summer Intern
- "OCA Facts and History".
- "OCA Chapters".
- "OCA Criticizes Singer Miley Cyrus for Mocking APA Community".
- "abcNews: Cyrus Defends Herself in 'Racist' Photo Fracas".
- "the Insider: OCA Still Not Happy with Miley Cyrus".
- "OCA National Convention".
- "OCA National Convention".
- "OCA APIA U: Leadership 101".
- "OCA National Internship Program".
- "OCA National Scholarships".
- "OCA College Affiliate Program".
- "OCA National Bamboo Program".
- "OCA/AAST - A Portrait of Chinese Americans".
- "2009-2011 National Directory of Scholarships, Internships, and Fellowships for Asian American and Pacific Islander Students".