What a great couple of weeks! In the last 10 days or so, we saw San Francisco elect its first Asian American mayor, Ed Lee — and he has Seattle roots, too. We also saw Steven Gonzalez appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Gonzalez is only the second Latino justice on the court. He is half Mexican and half Eastern European.
You don’t have to be Eastern European, Latino, or Asian American to glean some inspiration from these men. Both are American success stories, men who started with humble beginnings and built themselves up through hard work.
Gonzalez grew up in a California college town. One of his part-time jobs in high school was cleaning restrooms. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting News, Gonzalez said that experience helped form the rest of his journey.
“And I had a lot of time to reflect on what might lie ahead of me,” Gonzalez said. “And I think the restrooms were a very good reason for me to want to go to college.”
Gonzalez would go on to earn his law degree from the University of California School of Law in Berkeley (read more about him on page two.).
Similarly, Lee was born in Beacon Hill in Seattle. His parents were Chinese immigrants from the Guangdong Province. In Seattle, his father, a World War II veteran, worked as a cook. His mother was a waitress and seamstress.
Lee would attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Afterward, he worked for the San Francisco Asian Law Caucus, where he spent a decade fighting for affordable housing and advocating for the rights of immigrants and renters. In San Francisco, one in three persons are Asian American.
With people like Lee and Gonzalez breaking the glass ceiling for people of color, serving as inspirations, the rest of us really don’t have an excuse for not wanting to achieve the same. It is possible to go where no one else has gone before, and humble beginnings do not mean that it’s impossible to achieve.
There is one thing we are hoping for. We hope that Lee will make a trip to Seattle soon. We would love to have the opportunity to welcome back and congratulate a hometown friend with some sort of event or dinner, so that people here can get acquainted, or reacquainted, with him.
Luckily, we do have the opportunity to honor Gonzalez. He’ll be an honoree at our Top Contributors to the Asian Community, Diversity at the Top awards dinner on Dec. 2. (For more information about the event, see page 2.) (end)