By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer 

The Chinese American Association of Minnesota (CAAM) recently held its 2009 Annual Banquet & 42nd Anniversary Celebration at a packed Peking Garden Restaurant in St. Paul, MN.  CAAM is the oldest and largest Chinese American community organization in Minnesota. Tracing its history to the Chinese American Club gatherings at Nankin Cafe dating back to the 1930s, CAAM was founded by Nankin Cafe's owner, Walter James, in 1951 and incorporated with his help in 1967. By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

The Chinese American Association of Minnesota (CAAM) recently held its 2009 Annual Banquet & 42nd Anniversary Celebration at a packed Peking Garden Restaurant in St. Paul, MN.  CAAM is the oldest and largest Chinese American community organization in Minnesota. Tracing its history to the Chinese American Club gatherings at Nankin Cafe dating back to the 1930s, CAAM was founded by Nankin Cafe's owner, Walter James, in 1951 and incorporated with his help in 1967.

The program for the evening had a challenging since it began late and there were issues with the sound system that made it difficult for people at either end of the restaurant to hear very well so it was hard for them to pay attention and listen to the various reports that were presented by several members of CAAM’s Board of Directors. In addition to reports on 2009 activities and achievements, CAAM’s Chinese Dance Theatre and Chinese Language School are doing well and the organization enjoys a very healthy financial condition with good cash reserves in the bank.

The program continued as dinner was served, with scholarships being awarded to several students.  During the serving of dinner, the keynote speaker, Judge Tong Leung, was introduced as being the first Asian American judge to be appointed in the State of Minnesota.  Prior to making his presentation, he asked that the gathering refrain from continuing to talk and listen to what he had to say.

The topic of Judge Leung’s talk may have surprised the gathering, but when you examine CAAM’s mission, it is supposed to “enhance the quality of life of Chinese Americans in Minnesota.” 

In his talk Judge Leung encouraged all Chinese Americans to be involved and active in all aspects of the community and to be aware of cyclical themes that have occurred in the history of Chinese in America:  they have been welcomed when there is a need, but the doors close when there isn’t.  He cited a number of legal precedents including the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act which was not repealed until 1943.  Thus he strongly urged that Chinese Americans need to be vigilant in taking part in community-wide activities to ensure that they are properly represented.

The program for the evening continued with awarding of numerous door prizes with announcements from other community organizations along with a very entertaining musical and dance program.

Although it was a long program, the gathering enjoyed a delightful dinner and had the opportunity to visit with other members of the community.

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