Naperville’s CAWA holds a celebration for Anna May Wong

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Anna May Wong was a trailblazer for Asian Americans in Hollywood. The Actress appeared in over 60 films during her career, but the road was never easy. Now, Wong’s face is featured on the American quarter dollar.

History has been made

Chinese American Women In Action (CAWA) ushered in the Chinese New Year on Saturday by celebrating Wong’s accomplishment of being the first Chinese American on U.S. currency.

CAWA partnered with and held the event at Naperville Bank & Trust on Fort Hill Drive. The program featured performances from students at Naperville Chinese School, in addition to multiple speakers. The day ended with watching a short mini-documentary on Anna May Wong.

“I thought it was very successful because like you said, now people learn about Anna May Wong,” said CAWA President, Nancy Chen. “It’s not just about her. It’s this history of Asian American history. In her days, there was a lot of discrimination. She wasn’t allowed to represent who she was, You know, I mean, they actually gave some of the Chinese roles, Asian roles, to non-Chinese, and so she fought for that representation.”

Her coin is the fifth introduced, as part of the U.S. Mint’s four-year series of American Women on the quarter dollar. 

The red envelope tradition

Attendees were given a red envelope with the Anna May Wong quarter inside. The red envelope is part of a Chinese New Year tradition, as the color red symbolizes energy, happiness, and good luck in Chinese cultures.

“We celebrate New Year’s for 15 days,” said Chen. “So this is still part of New Year’s time. The thing is about family. You know, people come home sorta like Christmas or Thanksgiving.”

The Chinese New Year marks the transition of zodiac signs, as 2023 is the year of the Rabbit. New Year celebrations continue into early February.

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