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January 30, 2024

On House Floor, Pressley Honors Boston AAPI Activist Caroline Chang

Pressley Hails Chang’s Community Activism, Urges Passage of Her Bill to Name Post Office in Her Honor

Video (YouTube)

WASHINGTON — Today in a speech on the House Floor, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) paid tribute to the late Caroline Chang (1940-2018), a community leader and lifelong AAPI activist in Boston’s Chinatown community. In her remarks, Rep. Pressley discussed Chang’s many contributions to her community and urged her House colleagues to support H.R.3728, her bill to name the U.S. Postal Service office at 25 Dorchester Avenue in Boston after Chang.

Rep. Pressley first introduced the postal renaming measure in May 2023.

Footage of Rep. Pressley’s floor speech can be found here, and a transcript is below. A copy of the bill text can be found here, and Caroline’s biography is available here.

Transcript: On House Floor, Pressley Honors Boston AAPI Activist Caroline Chang

U.S. House of Representatives
January 29, 2023

Thank you, Ranking Member Raskin and Chair Comer, for advancing this legislation. I also want to thank my Massachusetts colleagues and our delegation for the unanimous support of this effort.

I rise today to recognize Caroline Chang, a community builder and trailblazer who was a tireless advocate for the Massachusetts 7th.

Caroline remains one of the greatest public servants that Boston and our Commonwealth has ever seen. She dedicated her life to serving the local Chinatown community and effecting lasting and positive change.

At a young age, Caroline lost her father and began serving as a translator for her mother while also looking after her two younger brothers and sister.

Her willingness to care for her family extended to all of Boston Chinatown, where community members would often rely on Caroline’s assistance when seeking medical care.

At the time, culturally congruent care was not an option for most Asian Americans in Boston. So, whenever a neighbor needed to visit the doctor, Caroline would be at their side as a translator, as an advocate, and as a friend.

Her early sense of purpose and community manifested into a love of organizing and movement building that remained with her as she went on to fight in all levels of government against discrimination faced by Asian Americans.

From managing Chinatown’s Little City Hall to her history-making tenure in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, she always made sure her home community had a seat at the table.

The Massachusetts 7th, which I am proud to represent, a vibrant and diverse district, and I am especially proud to represent this district as a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. It is home to nearly 100,000 Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

In a testament to her ability to bring people together, Caroline routinely gathered Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and other nationalities from the Boston area for dinners and events under the theme of Asian-American unity.

She bridged gaps within and across marginalized groups, working in solidarity to form several community-based organizations that continue to serve Chinatown and Greater Boston today – the Asian Community Development Corporation, the Asian American Civic Association, and the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center, to name only a few.

Inspired in part by her early work as a translator, Caroline also helped found the South Cove Community Health Center, the first community health center to provide culturally congruent care to Asian Americans in the City of Boston.

Today, it is the largest Asian primary care provider in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

My bill, H.R.3728, would designate the post office at 25 Dorchester Avenue, which is walking distance from South Cove, as the Caroline Chang Post Office.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are currently 617 postal facilities in Massachusetts. Of those facilities renamed, only one has been named for a woman and only five for people of color. To date, not one has been named for an AAPI individual.

Dating back to my time on the Boston City Council, I’ve underscored the need for us to have institutional representation in our public spaces – because who we honor matters.

At a time when the contributions of Black, brown, AAPI, and other marginalized communities are facing increased threats and erasure, recognizing their contributions by securing their representation is a small but meaningful step forward.

Caroline often said, – quote -There is always more work to do – end quote. And I wholeheartedly agree, but today, with this legislation, we recognize the work that she has done and honor her legacy, a legacy that will endure for generations to come.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank a dedicated member of my A-Team, Bayley Connors, and my leg staff who worked tirelessly to bring this to fruition today.

Thank you and I yield back.