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Kamala Harris to keynote first Asian American, Pacific Islander unity summit

Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver the keynote address for the first AAPI Unity Summit, From Victory to Unity, on Wednesday. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver the keynote address for the first AAPI Unity Summit, "From Victory to Unity," on Wednesday. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris will keynote the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Victory Alliance unity summit on Wednesday.

Harris, the first U.S. vice president of South Asian descent, will deliver the keynote address at 6 p.m. EDT. The virtual event is the AAPI Victory Alliance's first unity summit.

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"The AAPI Victory Alliance couldn't be more thrilled that our favorite daughter, Vice President Kamala Harris, will deliver the keynote address for our first-ever unity summit," AAPI Victory Alliance Executive Director Varun Nikore said in a statement. "Vice President Harris is an inspiration for all of our AAPI children who now know the sky's the limit and you can be anything in this country that they strive for."

Harris will deliver remarks on her own heritage during the virtual summit, titled "From Victory to Unity," which takes place during AAPI Heritage Month.

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The virtual event will also feature other notable persons in politics and popular culture to speak on the rising influence of the AAPI community and harnessing that power amid uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes, according to an AAPI Victory Alliance statement.

Asian Americans, who represent the fastest growing population in the country, voted at higher rates in the 2020 election than in the past, CNN reported.

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"AAPIs are rising. As the fastest growing group in the country, we witnessed a 46% increase in turnout from 2016 to 2020 despite a rise of hate and violence against our communities," Nikore said. "This isn't just a conference, it is a recognition of all that we have worked hard for and achieved. We are here, we are rising, and we are proud to be AAPI Americans."

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Harris will be joined by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and celebrities Tan France and Simu Liu.

The event will also feature dialogue between eight senators of color, including Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.; Alex Padilla, D-Calif.; Catherine Masto Cortez, D-Nev.; Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.; and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to show unity, the Washington Post reported.

Anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of the country's largest cities and counties have increased 164% since the same period last year, from 36 to 95 crimes, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. The increase follows a historic surge last year when hate crime increased 146% across 26 of the largest jurisdictions in the United States. Hate crimes first spiked last year as the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March and April and political and online stigmatizing of Asians increased.

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President Joe Biden noted a "skyrocketing spike" in violence and racist rhetoric against Asian Americans during a March visit to Atlanta, the site of a series of spa shootings that left eight people dead, including six people of Asian descent and two who were White. Robert Aaron Long, 21, who is White, has been charged with the killings, which shook up fears in Korean communities amid a rise in hate crimes.

Harris and Biden met with Asian American community leaders in Atlanta in a show of solidarity and support following the spa shootings there on March 16.

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