By Jaden Aponte, NaFFAA National Intern

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I attended New Virginia Majority’s MLK Day of Action in Richmond, VA. The day itself consisted of marching in the streets and lobbying to state representatives, which goes in line with Martin Luther King Jr’s civil disobedience methods. I attended with NaFFAA’s Executive Director Jason Tengco and Chief of Staff April Siruno. NaFFAA is part of the Asian American Pacific Islander Civic Engagement (ACE) Collaborative, the group organizing the MLK Day of Action.

The day started with a check-in and a large meeting to discuss the events throughout the day. The meeting then broke down into table groups where we practiced role playing lobby scenarios within our group. Our group focused on Drivers Licenses for All, a right to a Living Wage, and to dismantle the school to prison pipeline. Three people in our group shared personal stories, related to the issues, to the group and to the legislators when we lobbied with them. NaFFAA brought up how many Filipino American restaurants servers, staff, and small business owners would benefit from a raise in minimum wage over time.

It was a pleasure to see and hear people’s stories and reasons for being in the State capitol for the day, and know more about the change that they want to see.

Later, we marched to the State Senate, and our group met with the Legislative Assistants of Virginia State senators’ offices of Senator Barbara Favola and House Delegate Patrick Hope and lobbied for their support for our issues. 

While we were in Richmond, NaFFAA met with House Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler. It was amazing to meet a Filipina/Chicanx woman who is a delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates. After meeting her, I finally understood the need for representation in all forms of government.

Overall, the trip to Richmond, VA for MLK Day of Action was an impactful one. I was able to see the people who make change happen on the state level. Not only is it legislators, but those who lobby for what they believe in. In the spirit of MLK, I hope to support and advocate for issues that help communities outside of my own. I hope to attend MLK Day of Action in 2020 and research on my own more about my state and local government.