WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates mourns the loss of OCA Co-Founder Kung-Lee Wang.
Last Friday, Kung-Lee (K.L.) Wang passed away. His death comes only three months after the passing of fellow OCA Co-Founder Alex Mark.
Wang, along with co-founder Alex Mark, founded OCA to serve as a unified, national voice for Chinese Americans in the ongoing struggle for civil rights. After Wang founded the Chinese American Leadership Council in Washington, D.C in 1971, he encouraged his friend Alex Mark to chair a steering committee in 1973 to establish a national organization for Chinese Americans. This effort would culminate into the first OCA National Convention, where Wang was elected the first National President and served in this role from 1974-1977.
As National President, he toured the country to promote OCA as a national advocacy organization for Chinese Americans and set the stage for the expansion of the organization over the following decades. Today, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans. The organization now has over 100 chapters and affiliates from across the country and will celebrate 42 years of advocacy this year.
Following the passing of Wang, OCA Past National Presidents have given their fond memories and condolences:
“As a steadfast advocate on behalf of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, K.L’s vision and compassion will continue to be the guiding principles of OCA. We can best honor the memory of our visionary founders by actively ensuring that all APAs enjoy their full measure of freedom and access to opportunity and that they are fairly represented in the highest levels of commerce, government, media and the community,” said Michael W. Kwan, Current National President.
“So much is owed to K.L. for his vision to unite the Chinese American and ultimately the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Yet he was a man who had no expectations of reward for himself. Trailblazer, pioneer, role model, visionary, leader, stalwart, and passionate are words that describe his greatness, yet these words cannot do justice to the breadth and depth of what K.L. was. To the very end he remained a fighter for equality and equity, and as a result, his legacy will live on through OCA which he co-founded over 40 years ago,” said Sharon Wong, Past National President, 2012-2014.
“K.L. Wang was a great visionary and leader to our organization and the Asian Pacific American community at-large. He was passionate about equality and rights for our community at a time when the Asian American and Pacific Islander movement was still young. We owe much to K.L, and will honor his legacy by continuing to fight for equality for Asian Pacific Americans,” said Ken Lee, OCA’s Chief Executive Officer and Past National President, 2009-2012.
“After meeting with K.L. for the first time nearly 30 years ago, I hesitated, but joined OCA at the urging of a fraternity brother. At the time, I thought to myself how impossible it was to create a unified voice for the Chinese American community as K.L. envisioned. During my service in various capacities within OCA, I was most impressed by K.L.’s determination to realize his vision, in spite of difficult challenges, inevitable frustrations and scarce resources. Today, OCA is one of the most respected civil rights organizations in the nation because of K.L.’s unwavering commitment for more than 40 years. We will miss him greatly,” said Michael Lin, Past National President, 1995-1998.
“K.L. was a visionary, a man ahead of his time. He envisioned what could be and did what needed to be done to make it happen. From successfully advocating to change the name of the Pekin, Illinois’ basketball team from ‘Chinks’ to ‘Dragons’, to then establishing OCA more than 40 years ago, K.L. advanced the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans. His steadfast commitment to OCA has served as an inspiration to all of us,” said Ginny Gong, Past National President, 1993-1994.
“Because of K.L.’s overwhelming personal dedication, great sacrifice, supportive guidance, and keen wisdom spanning five decades, OCA has become the champion organization for all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. I am humbled and honored to have known K.L. as a dear friend and to have worked alongside him for the advancement of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We will all miss him but his legacy will live on within all of us who knew him and the future goodwill of OCA,” said Austin Tao, Past National President, 1982.
“K.L. Wang was one of the rare Chinese Americans of his time who acted upon his vision of equality and fairness for Chinese Americans. K.L.’s legacy lives on in legislation signed into law from the Bilingual Provisions of the Voting Rights Act to the Hong Kong immigration quota, the next generation of AAPI leaders, and the political empowerment of Chinese Americans and AAPIs,” stated Daphne Kwok, former OCA Executive Director, 1990-2001.
Wang was born on August 12, 1925 in Hubei, China and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Yenching University, as well as Masters degrees in Economics from Brown University, in Business Administration from Columbia University,and in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
In addition to his service at OCA, Wang also helped found the Committee of 100 and was instrumental in the creation of many other Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations. He also served as the Chairman of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME).
Wang has received many awards, including the Asian and Pacific American Civil Rights Alliance’s 1988 Civil Rights Award of the Year; the National Ethnic Coalition of Organization Foundation’s Ellis Island Medal of Honor, together with Congressmen Norman Mineta and Jay Kim; and OCA’s 2002 Founder Award, 2008 Pioneer Award and 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award along with Co-Founder Alex Mark.
Wang passed away peacefully on Friday, April 24, 2015 at Holy Cross Germantown Hospital in Maryland. He is survived by his son Christopher Wang and daughter-in-law Anna Lee, his granddaughters Pamela and Samantha Wang, his sister Anchen Wang Lin, his sister-in-law Dorothy Wang and his former wife Christine Wang.
Relatives and friends will be received at Pumphrey’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Funeral Home, 7557 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 from 3 pm – 5 pm and 7 pm – 9 pm. A service will be held at Pumphrey’s Funeral Home on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 10 am. Interment will follow at Columbia Gardens, Arlington, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to OCA in memory of Kung-Lee Wang at www.ocanational.org.
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs).