By Carol N. Vu
For the Northwest Asian Weekly
Al Gore is helping lead the charge to establish a special library in Chinatown/International District that will honor the legacy of Washington’s first and only Asian American governor.
Former Vice President Gore recently agreed to serve as honorary co-chair of the Governor Gary Locke Library and Community Heritage Center, to be located inside the new Wing Luke Asian Museum when it opens in 2007.
Gore’s name is at the top of a list of honorary committee members that includes some of the biggest movers and shakers in D.C., including U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda of California, Rep. Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and U.S. Rep. David Wu of Oregon.
Project organizers have been extending invitations to “individuals with a meaningful relationship with Gov. Locke,” Joy Shigaki, the museum’s capital campaign manager, said. “Across the board, people have been thrilled to be part of such a special opportunity.”
“Their guidance and contacts will be instrumental in helping us raise our goal of $1 million for the Gary Locke Library and Community Heritage Center,” believes Mimi Gan, a former KING-TV reporter and close friend of Locke and his wife, Mona Lee Locke. It was Gan, a trustee of the Wing Luke Asian Museum, who came up with the idea for this space earlier this year.
The announcement was officially made in March at the museum’s benefit dinner at the Westin hotel. Locke was in the audience, but had no idea such plans were in the works until that moment.
The 4,230-square-foot space will include artifacts from Locke’s political career, which began in 1983 as state legislator from the 37th District and ended in January when he stepped down after eight years as governor. Locke was the first Asian American governor on the mainland United States.
The space will also function as a resource center for community members who want to learn more about Asian Pacific American issues through books, videos and films, photographs, newspaper articles and oral histories. Visitors can use database tools to research, and there will be training for those interested in gathering oral histories and family genealogies.
The co-chairs of the campaign are Locke’s longtime friends and former staffers, Everett Billingslea, Martha Choe and Fred Kiga.
Fund-raising efforts have only recently begun. To reach the $1 million goal, organizers will appeal to Locke’s admirers, locally as well as nationally.
“We’re hoping money will come from … individuals, corporations, APAs and non-APAs alike. Many businesses and individuals will always remember what Gary accomplished as governor and are showing their gratitude,” Gan said.
“I think all of us — Martha, Fred, Everett and I — are very optimistic about reaching our goal.”
Gan said they want to raise a significant amount of the $1 million by Aug. 15 so they can leverage a $1 million matching grant from the Kresge Foundation. “I know it sounds ambitious, given the timeline,” Gan said, “but we’re hopeful.”
The Locke Library and Community Heritage Center is part of a $23 million campaign to move the 39-year-old Wing Luke Asian Museum into a permanent home in the east Kong Yick Building. The move will allow the museum to quadruple in size. (end)
For more information about the Governor Gary Locke Library and Community Heritage Center, call Joy Shigaki at 206-623-5124.