There are 95,000 people of Hmong descent living in California, the most of any state. The Hmong people, who come from Southeast Asia, were American allies in the Vietnam War. When South Vietnam fell in 1975, many migrated to America. In California they centered mostly in the Central Valley and Fresno, given their experience in agriculture, and later, in Sacramento.
The Hmong is the youngest of California’s ethnic groups–it’s estimated that half of them are under 18 years old.
A Sacramento woman who has become a leader in mobilizing this small but strong population is educating her community about how to increase their influence. Given the demographics of the population, much of the organizing activity has centered around the issue of education.
Mai Yang Vang, who has worked for California Forward, a government reform organization, for the last 3 years, and her organizing group, Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP), have been working to help the community get informed on the issues, registered to vote (and they do vote—89 percent turnout in 2012) and much more active in Sacramento politics on the issues they care about.
How did this woman who is a daughter of Hmong refugee parents become inspired to do this work?