Committee to Eliminate Bias and Promote Equal Justice
Commemorative Messages

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Native American Day

September 2023

The observance of Native American Day on the fourth Friday of September, focuses on a celebration of the history, heritage, and culture of tribes across the United States. Each diverse nation has its own beliefs, rituals, and traditions. This day is about celebrating the enriching heritage, contributions, and knowledge of Native Americans. Native American Day also recognizes the atrocities committed against Native people by Americans of European descent, specifically as President Biden’s proclamation describes in a quote, "centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation tribes across the United States.” The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts , and countless other fields are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society.

California Native people transformed the state and our collective culture in ways that many could only dream of. Tribal nations have worked to restore ancestral names and cultural practices to many of the places where Native people have lived, survived and thrived in since time immemorial. On this Native American Day, we recognize not only learning about the rich histories, traditions and contributions of the diverse tribal communities throughout the state, but also the importance of supporting visibility and justice for California Native peoples.

Women's Equality / Passage of 19th Amendment

August 2023

Passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to our Constitution granted women the right to vote. It took decades of agitation and protest to get this amendment passed. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of women suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what was then considered a radical change of the constitution. Although many of us are familiar with the name of Susan B. Anthony and have been taught the significant role she played in the woman’s suffrage movement, did you know many women of color were instrumental in bringing significant change as well? This month’s commemorative email seeks to introduce you to some women who are not as famous as Susan B. Anthony, but have nonetheless helped make the 19th Amendment a reality.

The campaign for women suffrage was long and difficult; yet even then, ratification did not ensure all women meaningfully received the right to vote. It took several more decades of struggle to include minority women in the promise of voting rights.

The struggle for suffrage (the right to vote) which began for black women in the early 1800s, continued until activists such as Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash won the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 200 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

In 1920, Native Americans weren’t allowed to be United States Citizens, so the federal amendment did not give them the right to vote. Native American activist Zitka’la-Sa’ continued to organize and advocate with white mainstream suffragists. With the passage of the Snyder Act of 1924, American-born Native Women gained citizenship. But until as late as 1962, individual states still prevented them from voting on contrived grounds, such as literacy tests, poll taxes and claims that residence on a reservation mean one wasn’t a resident of the state.

Native-born Asian Americans already had citizenship in 1920, but first generation Asian Americans did not. Asian American immigrant women were excluded from voting until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. This Act allowed them to gain citizenship more than three decades after the 19th Amendment. Asian American suffragists such as Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee worked alongside white and Native-born women in the years leading up to 1920.

Latinx women contributed to the success of the suffrage movement at both the state and federal levels, particularly with their efforts to reach out to Spanish-speaking women. Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, who is considered the first Mexican-American novelist, and a precursor to the Chicano/a movement, captured the challenges faced by Mexican-American women during the early years of citizenship starting in 1849. Her first novel, Who Would Have Thought It, (1872) criticizes U.S. racism and imperialism and women’s marginality. Through this book she was able to awaken the heart of her readers and introduce concepts of equality between the sexes.

This month, let us take a moment to educate ourselves on the history of these women and take a moment to express gratitude to them for their meaningful contributions. Their stories remind us of the diversity of suffrage activism in the United States. (external site ) (external site ) (external site ) (external site )


June 2023

This past Monday the courts were closed due to the acknowledgment of Juneteenth, a recently designated federal holiday and the seminal event in American history that signified the end of slavery within the United States. Officially titled "Juneteenth National Independence Day," the holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Americans upon the anniversary of General Order Number 3, issued by Major General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865—some two-plus years after President Abraham Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1962 (declaring those enslaved in Confederate states to be free). It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Texas, though, that those therein learned that slavery had been abolished. The name "Juneteenth" derives from the combination of "June" and "nineteenth," and has been celebrated throughout our communities through prayer , festivals, and community events since 1866; these events typically occur on the third Saturday in June. While originating in Galveston, the commemoration and festivities spread quickly throughout the South, and is now observed annually throughout the United States, with some referring to it as "America's second Independence Day." On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, joining every other state and the District of Columbia in formally recognizing the holiday.

General Granger’s order read, in part, as follows:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."

Please click the link to learn more information. (external site )

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI)

May 2023

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) recognizes the history, culture, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans here in the United States. AAPI signifies cultures from all regions within the Asian continent, as well as the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. AAPI Heritage Month emanates from the effort to recognize AAPI contributions in America starting in the 70's when Representatives Frank Horton and Norman Mineta introduced a resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The significance of early-May was twofold: on May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States and on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed using Chinese labor.

In 1992, May was officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, and in 2009 the annual recognition was renamed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. At the time, President Barack Obama reiterated the reasons for the recognition: “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured and overcome hardship and heartache. In the earliest years, tens of thousands of Gold Rush pioneers, coal miners, transcontinental railroad builders, as well as farm and orchard laborers, were subject to unjust working conditions, prejudice, and discrimination—yet they excelled. Even in the darkness of the Exclusion Act and Japanese internment, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have persevered, providing for their families and creating opportunities for their children. ... I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.”

Recently, AAPI’s have constantly faced xenophobia, racism, bias, and violence especially seen through the Covid-19 pandemic. It is ever more important to use this month to pay tribute to the diverse contributions this community has made in American History as well as advocate for the Anti-Asian hate movement and create awareness.

Former Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye for addressing racism and bias: “We state clearly and without equivocation that we condemn racism in all its forms: conscious, unconscious, institutional, structural, historic, and continuing. We say this as persons who believe all members of humanity deserve equal respect and dignity; as citizens committed to building a more perfect Union; and as leaders of an institution whose fundamental mission is to ensure equal justice under the law for every single person.”


Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month - 8 Ways to Celebrate 31 Days
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated annually in May in the United States to highlight the history, heritage and contributions of Asian Pacific American communities.  Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander Americans (AAPI) play a large role in the his

22 Ideas To Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month (2023)
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a celebration of the many contributions and achievements of the AAPI community.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May 2023

Mental Health Awareness Month was first celebrated in 1949. It was commemorated by the Mental Health America organization, which was then known as the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and then later as the National Mental Health Association before it got its current name. The association was founded by Clifford Whittingham Beers. Beers, who was born in 1876 in Connecticut, was one of five children in his family who all suffered from mental illness and psychological distress. All of them also went on to spend time at mental institutions and it was from his hospital admittance that he discovered that the mental health field had a notorious reputation for malpractice, maltreatment, and immense bias.

Our country faces an unprecedented mental health crisis that devastates adults and young people alike, as well as those from every background. During the COVID-19 Pandemic unprecedented times some of the most common mental health diagnosis are as follows:

  • Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias;
  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders;
  • Eating disorders;
  • Personality disorders;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder; and
  • Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia.

Locally our own Riverside County Department of Mental Health has tremendous resources for family and individuals to obtain mental health services. In addition to providing a clinician to assist with getting a treatment plan started, they have a 24/7 mental health hotline individuals can call in a crisis.

Why is celebrating Mental Health worth celebrating?

1. It’s a celebration of mental health

The only way to enjoy life to the fullest and experience all its wonders is if we take care of ourselves, mentally and physically. Don’t shy away from talking about what’s plaguing you as it’s really the only way you can help with solving, resolving, and/or fixing the problem.

2. It’s a celebration of changing attitudes

We have come a long way from the times when those suffering from mental illness were treated as outcasts, not only by loved ones but also by medical professionals. Things have changed for the better, both within the mental health field and in the way people view mental illnesses.

3. It’s a celebration of humans

We humans are a set of meticulously-put-together details. Our minds (and bodies) work in harmony to bring us amazing feats in technology, science, humanities, literature, etc. Our mental power, therefore, needs to be taken care of for a better tomorrow for the coming generations.

Women's History Month / International Women's Day

March 2023

In March, coinciding with Women’s History Month, is International Women’s Day. On March 8, the world celebrates the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women. In the United States, Susan B. Anthony was a political activist and an advocate of women’s rights. After the Civil War, she fought for the 14th Amendment that was meant to grant all naturalized and native-born Americans citizenship in the hope that it would include suffrage rights. Although the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, it still didn’t secure their vote. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to continue the fight for women’s rights.

In the early 1900s, women were experiencing pay inequality, a lack of voting rights, and they were being overworked. In response to all of this, 15,000 women marched through New York City in 1908 to demand their rights. In 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. This was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

An International Women’s Conference was organized in August 1910 by Clara Zetkin, a German suffragist and leader in the Women’s Office. Zetkin proposed a special Women’s Day to be organized annually and International Women’s Day was honored the following year in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, with more than one million attending the rallies. On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified and women were granted the right to vote in the U.S.

The liberation movement took place in the 1960s and the effort led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, allowing all women the right to vote. When the internet became more commonplace, feminism and the fight against gender inequality experienced a resurgence. Now we celebrate International Women’s Day each year as we push continuously with the hope of creating a completely equal society quality around the world. We all know the world couldn’t run without women. Please join us in observing and celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.

Black History Month

February 2023

February is Black History Month. Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history.

Black History Week was created in February 1926 by Carter Woodson. February was chosen for the initial week-long observance because it coincides with the birthdays’ of former President Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and reformer Frederick Douglass (February 14). Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery.

In 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However it wasn’t until Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law in 1986 that the country began to observe it formally.

While Black History Month is synonymous with prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, George Washington Carver, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, there are countless other African Americans here locally who have made a profound impact on history, including our own Justice Richard T. Fields, who was the first African-American judicial officer in Riverside County, and Judge Irma Asberry, who was the first African-American woman to be judge in Riverside County. Other influential African-Americans here locally include:

  • Barnett and Eleanor Jean Grier: Physicist Dr. Barnett Grier moved with his family to Riverside in 1951 to work at the National Bureau of Standards which established the Corona Naval Ordinance Laboratories. In 1956, he became the second life member of the NAACP and involved in fair housing and education desegregation issues. His wife was one of the first African-American elementary teachers to teach at a predominantly white school. He also pioneered equal employment opportunities. The Griers were honored for their civil rights work by the naming of the Grier Pavilion at Riverside City Hall in their honor in 2008.
  • Robert Bland: Bland led a parents’ movement to integrate Riverside schools after an arson burned Lowell School in 1965. Only three weeks after the Watts riots, the arson threatened the peace of the community but the group led by Bland was able to effectively negotiate with the school district.
  • Lulamae Clemons: Lulamae Clemons earned her nursing degree in Missouri and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science (Lincoln University), a Master of Arts in Public Health Administration (Columbia), Doctorate of Education (University of Southern California), and a postgraduate certificate as a Pupil Personnel Services Administrator (Harvard). She was Director of Intergroup Relations for the Riverside County Office of Education and went on to head the UCR-based Title IV School Desegregation Project in the 1960s, where she supervised compliance with equal education requirements for four western states. Locally, she started the Riverside Head Start branch. She received a Presidential Citation for Distinguished Service to Youth in 2003.
  • Jack Clarke, Sr.: One of the first African Americans hired as a full-time professional in the California Department of the Youth Authority in 1946, Jack Clarke led the way for the hiring of African Americans at the state agency. When he retired in 1978 he was the Chief of Parole and Institutions for Southern California. He was the first African American elected to the Riverside County Office of Education in 1981, where he served as president. In 1986, he was elected the first African American member of the Riverside City Council.
  • Rose Mayes: As a fair housing leader, Rose Mayes developed the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County into a national model for combating housing discrimination recognized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and National Fair Housing Alliance. She is co-founder of the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California.

Please join us in observing Black History Month.

Japanese American Confinement - Day of Remembrance

Sunday, February 19, 2023

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, "Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas." Although the Order did not name any ethnic group, General John L. DeWitt implemented confinement of Japanese and Japanese Americans across the country. Within six months, about 122,000 people lived in so-called "internment camps."

On February 18, 2022, a Presidential Proclamation was issued reaffirming the Federal Government's formal apology to Japanese-Americans whose lives were affected by this chapter in history and proclaiming February 19, 2022, as a Day of Remembrance of Japanese-American Incarceration during World War II. We learn these facts from websites and books. But to steal a political aphorism, all history is local. We'd like to highlight a couple of local stories that show triumph over tragedy.

Judge Ben Kayashima retired from our sister court, San Bernardino County. Although he was held at the Japanese internment camp in Parker, Arizona, he later served with distinction in the United States Army, earning the Combat Infantryman's badge in Korea. He graduated from UCLA, then Hastings College of the Law. He joined the bench in 1980 and served with distinction until 2013.

Justice Stephen K. Tamura served this community on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two. While imprisoned in Poston, Arizona, Justice Tamura requested that the War Relocation Authority allow him to study at Harvard Law School. Instead of immediately practicing law, Justice Tamura enlisted in the Army and served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most highly decorated military units. Justice Tamura was Orange County's first Asian-American attorney, its first Asian-American judge, and the first Asian-American state appellate court justice in the country.

Please join us in observing our Day of Remembrance for the confined Japanese and celebrating our local heroes' achievements despite their confinement.