ST. LOUIS — The City of St. Louis declared Jan. 19, 2023, as "Very Asian Day."
The honor recognizes the Very Asian Foundation and 5 On Your Side anchor Michelle Li's work to advance opportunities and representation of Asian Americans.
Michelle and a group of colleagues launched the Very Asian Foundation on Jan. 19, 2022. The declaration honors the one-year anniversary of Michelle's appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, announcing the new foundation.
The foundation's mission is "to shine a light on Asian experiences through advocacy and celebration."
Mayor Tishaura O. Jones made the declaration at the Board of Alderman meeting Friday.
The full declaration reads:
The Very Asian Foundation launched in St. Louis after Michelle Li, a KSDK news anchor, sparked a global moment of unity after dismantling racism with a message of belonging for all people, including Asian Americans living in St. Louis and in countries around the world; and
WHEREAS, The Very Asian Foundation is a non-profit organization that spent its inaugural year supporting Asian American charitable groups through fundraising, advocacy, and amplification, including groups like Stop AAPI Hate, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), The Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (KAAN), and AAPI Montclair; and
WHEREAS, The Very Asian Foundation created a national awareness campaign called The May Book Project, inspired by St. Louis high schoolers who wanted to see more Asian American Youth representation in their libraries for all readers and doing so by providing more inclusive materials such as a vetted booklist created by national scholars and a toolkit produced by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association; and
WHEREAS, The Very Asian Foundation worked with corporations in St. Louis and around the country to raise money to send books to at-need libraries that couldn’t afford but wanted more Asian American youth literature for every reader, including Woerner Elementary in St. Louis, where many students speak Vietnamese, Nepali and Jarai; and
WHEREAS, The Very Asian Foundation’s co-founders Michelle Li and Gia Vang along with executive director Soogi Hong, and St. Louis-based executive board members Alex Lee and Steve Lenivy, participated in more than 100 Very Asian x Very American-focused mixers, panel discussions, and media events to support creators, restaurants, small businesses, journalists, and more; and
WHEREAS, The Very Asian Foundation serves as a community organization to shine a light on Asian experiences through advocacy and celebration and encourages all people to celebrate their full humanity; and
WHEREAS, I encourage all the citizens of the great City of St. Louis to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance by eating dumplings and bringing your full humanity to the table.
Now, therefore, I, Tishaura O. Jones, Mayor of the City of St. Louis, do hereby proclaim January 19, 2023, as:
“VERY ASIAN DAY”
IN THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the seal of the City of St. Louis, this 19th day of January, A.D. 2023.
How it started
On New Year's Day, Michelle Li was anchoring a 5 On Your Side newscast. There was a segment about the foods people eat on New Year's Day. At the end, Michelle said, "I ate dumpling soup. That's what a lot of Korean people do."
A woman left a voicemail with the station, criticizing Michelle for being "very Asian," and said she should "keep her Korean to herself."
Michelle shared a video on her Instagram page that showed her listening to the racist voicemail. The video went viral, and thousands of people showed Michelle support after the racist voicemail.