How NAKASEC-VA Organizes for Social, Economic & Racial Justice

Posted on June 28, 2018 | Sookyung Oh, NAKASEC

Every few weeks, the Weissberg Foundation features a story from one of our Reframing <Washington> Empowerment Fund grantee partners to shine a light on their critical work. Learn more about these powerful organizations by visiting their websites.

NAKASEC-VA (National Korean American Service & Education Consortium – Virginia) organizes Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, economic, and racial justice, project a progressive voice, and promote the full participation of Korean and Asian Americans within the larger society. Through community organizing, public policy advocacy, civic engagement, and youth leadership development, NAKASEC-VA works to build a future in which low- and middle-income, immigrant, people of color, and marginalized communities are working together as makers of lasting change. This pictorial tells the story of that work over the last 18 months.

Women’s MarchNAKASEC youth at the Women’s March in D.C January, 21, 2017. We organized a contingent of over 60 Korean and Asian American girls and women to drum and march together.

Change Begins with YOUthGroup photo of youth and staff near Virginia Beach at the start of Summer 2017’s “Change Begins with YOUth” retreat.

DREAM Action Vigil in front of White HouseFrom August 15 to September 5, we organized a 22-day, 24 hour a day vigil in front of the White House in defense the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. During this time, we hosted countless organizations, faith and student groups, spoke with over 10,000 Americans and ultimately collected 8,000 petitions in favor of DACA. On September 5, Department of Justice Secretary Sessions announced the cancellation of DACA.

Civic EngagementOur year-round civic engagement program includes direct voter outreach to Korean and Asian Americans through door knocking, phonebanking, texting, voter education, and voter registration. Pictured here is an outreach at Open Door Presbyterian Church in Herndon, VA in October 2017.

Immigrant Rights ActionsAfter the cancellation of DACA, NAKASEC VA led organizing in Virginia to advocate for the DREAM Act and to protect the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Program. Pictured is a rally in Sterling, VA in front of Representative Barbara Comstock’s office in November 2017. Not pictured are community members and leaders with CASA, Indivisible, Sanctuary DMV, and other supporters.

DC ActionIn December 2017, NAKASEC VA and our affiliates, as well as our partners including the UndocuBlack Network, organized this rally in D.C. in support of a clean DREAM Act. Pictured speaking is Maro Park, a NAKASEC VA DACAmented leader.

Canvassing for Immigrant RightsIn January 2018, NAKASEC VA canvassed in Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner’s neighborhoods to educate and identify supporters for a clean DREAM Act. Pictured here is a constituent in Richmond, VA with two organizers.

Promoting CitizenshipEvery month, NAKASEC VA organizes a naturalization clinic in different parts of Northern and Central Virginia to assist low income Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to complete the N-400 citizenship application. We recruit and train volunteers and immigration lawyers who will take time with community members to go question by question. Pictured here are some volunteers from a clinic in February 2018 at the Centreville Labor Resource Center. Other locations have included Annandale and Falls Church. Future clinics will also include Fairfax, Manassas, and Sterling, VA.

Trainings and Technical AssistanceNAKASEC VA DACAmented leader, Jung Bin Cho, presented at the Virginia Intercollegiate Immigrant Association’s annual conference at University of Virginia on March 26, 2018 about how to organize a campaign.

AAPI Campaign SchoolIn March 2018, NAKASEC VA staff and community leaders joined our colleagues at NAKASEC National, Korean Resource Center (southern California), and HANA Center (Chicagoland area), at the AAPI Campaign School to present and learn about integrated voter engagement.

Local Immigrant Rights AdvocacyNAKASEC VA’s local organizing and advocacy is currently centered on passing sanctuary policies in Fairfax County. Pictured is NAKASEC VA DACAmented leader Min Su Kang testifying in front of all the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at an open county budget town hall on April 11, 2018.

Speaking Up as Asian AmericansNAKASEC VA DACAmented leader, Pratishtha Khanna, speaking on a panel as part of the National Ecumenical Advocacy Days in April 2018.

NAKASEC FundraiserFor the first time, NAKASEC VA held a large-scale fundraiser in April 2018. Pictured are NAKASEC VA youth who entered as a team and won first place!

SolidarityIn June 2018, NAKASEC VA joined KQT DC and Korean American Rainbow Parents at the Capitol Pride Parade in DC to do p’ungmul (traditional Korean percussions).

Sookyung Oh is NAKASEC’s DC Area Director, leading organizing and campaign work in Virginia. Previously she coordinated NAKASEC’s national immigrant rights campaigns. Most recently she served at the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as a Public Policy Analyst and the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Richmond, VA as a State Policy Fellow. She started working in Korean and Asian American communities at the Jaisohn Center and Asian Americans United in Philadelphia. Currently, she is on the board of the ACLU-DC, the Virginia Civic Engagement Table (VCET), and the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR). She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University. She is a 2nd generation Korean American who believes in the power of conversations and listening. She enjoys comic books and the D.C. blues scene.

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