Bringing Hmong History Closer to Home

By: Mary Rinzel Email
By: Mary Rinzel Email

An UW-Eau Claire instructor and his son are two of 600 people from Hmong communities across the state who traveled for hours to get to Madison today.

They were all there to support the Hmong Migration Education Act.

If lawmakers pass it, it would require school boards across the state to add Hmong history to the classroom.

Charles Chou Vue and Andrew Vue both say the bill would do much more than ease racial tensions. They say it would help young Hmong students find their place in American society, while not forgetting their history.

Andrew Vue is in eighth grade. Tonight he's working on his homework. This morning he joined state representatives at the podium and gave a speech in front of hundreds of people.

“It was a good feeling. If this bill gets passed, people will have a better understanding of us and our race."

And Andrew's homework could soon include learning about his country's role in American history—specifically the Vietnam War.

"The Hmong agreed to sabotage enemy tanks, rescue American pilots who were fighting and guard U.S. radio stations that guide U.S. jets," says Charles Chou Vue, Andrew’s dad.

They’re facts Charles says many Americans need to be aware of to prevent battles at home.

"In situations like hunting, if they knew each other they'd be more polite, more patient, more courteous," he says.

It's no coincidence representatives chose to reintroduce the bill just weeks after a white hunter was charged with shooting and killing a Hmong hunter near Green Bay.

“Our decision to reintroduce the bill now is in response to heightened concern of racial tension,” says Rep. Donna Seidel of Wausau

Charles says the bill will help build relationships and build a better understanding for modern-day Hmong life.

"It's sad to see Hmong children who come to school and don't know why their parents brought them to the U.S. They seem lost," he says.

"Sometimes with my Caucasian friends, I feel they don't understand my background so well, so if this bill does pull through, it'd be pretty good if they started to learn about me and my history and the history of the Hmong people," says Andrew Vue.

Charles Chou Vue says he hopes the Legislature will take up the bill in April.
If not, he says they'll round up even more support and be right back in Madison trying again.

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