As we approach Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I reflect on Dr. King’s iconic speech given in front of the Lincoln Memorial and how it set the stage for the formation of our organization.
A little over a decade after Dr. King‘s famous I Have A Dream speech, Wu Yee Children’s Services was formed by a committed group of social workers, parents, teachers, grandparents, who worked tirelessly alongside the directors of the Chinatown Child Development Center and Chinatown Community Children’s Center to address the overwhelming need for childcare services for immigrant, working families. They formed The Association of Children’s Rights, which later became Wu Yee Children’s Services, to provide the much needed child care and resource and referral services that still exists today.
When Wu Yee was incorporated in 1977, there was strong anti-immigrant sentiment and antagonism toward people of color, propelling Wu Yee to establish a multicultural curriculum to help immigrant children retain their own cultural roots as they prepared to integrate into mainstream schools.
Although controversial at the time, Wu Yee’s multicultural curriculum included sharing holidays with Japanese, Latino, and Asian Centers around San Francisco, recognizing that every culture plays an important role in the community. Wu Yee served as a safety net for families, many of whom experienced hostility from others in their daily lives.
Building on our founders’ progressive vision, Wu Yee continues to deliver a diverse range of services throughout San Francisco to expecting parents and young children, including: early education, health, mental health, nutrition, and family support services.
Wu Yee means "protector of children" in Cantonese, and protecting the rights of San Francisco’s children to be safe, healthy, and happy is always at the heart of Wu Yee's mission. By ensuring that children are well-supported we ensure the growth of thriving families and strong communities—especially those with diverse populations.
In memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., we thank our founders for having the bold vision to celebrate individuality and diversity while fighting for equality for all children. In the words of Dr. King, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back... I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
Thank you Catherine Ko, Ruth Yee, Miranda Li, Yan Wong, Siu Yip Wong, Alice Lau, Stella Chan, Karen Chin, and Sai Ling Chan Sew and countless others for paving the way for our children today.
We have come a long way, but there is much more work to be done. Until everyone is truly equal in dignity and justice, we will not be free. What are your dreams for your children? Share with us at #WuYee or @WuYeeOrg.
Chief Executive Officer