Committee of 100

Blog Post: Norm Mineta, a legacy. Quotes from Committee of 100 Members

20th May 2022

Norm Mineta, the first Asian American Cabinet secretary, died peacefully earlier this month at the age of 90, surrounded by family in Edgewater, Maryland.  Mr. Mineta was an icon in the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community, breaking barriers along the way. Mr. Mineta was a close friend and advisor to Committee of 100 and many of its Members for more than 30 years. As Mr. Mineta is laid to rest, many of the Committee of 100 Members reflected on their relationship and how much he meant to them and the overall AAPI community:  

“Norm was an Asian American icon. As a Japanese-American, he endured internment as a young boy during World War II, and rose to become a 10-term Congressman from California, and then went on to serve in the cabinet of two presidents. Under President Clinton, he served as Secretary of Commerce, and under Secretary George W. Bush, he was Secretary of Transportation and led the efforts to respond to and recover from the September 11th attacks.There are more Asian Americans serving in government -elected and appointed – because of his trailblazing and barrier-breaking efforts. He was our inspiration and role model. He was a personal mentor to so many of us. We thank him and honor his spirit.”  

– Ambassador Gary Locke, President of Bellevue College; Former U.S. Ambassador to China; Committee of 100 Chair 

“I can say without hesitation that I am where I am today because of the tutelage and mentorship of this icon. In addition to the historic accomplishments of his political career, Norm was the most beloved and highly respected APIA leader of our times simply because he was so generous and accessible to all who he felt could help contribute and make a difference for our community within this American society.  He was such a giant that I simply felt he was going to be with us forever.”  

– Maeley Tom, Founding President, California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Institute; Committee of 100 Member

“Secretary Mineta showed the impact that a single individual can make on the country and on the AAPI community. Among the important legislation he authored were the transportation portion of the American Disability Act which has allowed people with disabilities like me the freedom to travel, and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act which has allowed businesses like mine to ship products across the country with greater efficiency. He has kept air travel safe after 9/11 as Secretary of Transportation. Along the way, he was also the inaugural chair of the Congressional APA Caucus and personally encouraged and mentored countless AAPIs to enter politics and government. I first met Norm in 1994 when I was asked to lobby the powerful Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for more funding for the Alameda Corridor as a new board member of the LA Chamber of Commerce. We struck up our long friendship right away. I feel fortunate to be among so many that have benefited from Norm’s kindness, wisdom, and encouragement for my community involvement. Our country and our community has lost a giant. Thank you Norm for letting so many of us stand on your shoulders. We will always remember.”  

– Charlie Woo, Co-founder and CEO, Megatoys; Chair for Southern California Region at Committee of 100

“When I arrived in Washington from Texas in 1976, as a young attorney with the federal government, I would watch from a distance as Norm addressed Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) gatherings and deliver his signature speech to motivate young professionals. But we didn’t meet until 1992 when I was an officeholder in Texas, and a member of an AAPI delegation urging the newly elected Clinton Administration to appoint AAPIs to office. Norm was unpretentious, humorously self-deprecating, and eager to listen.  I didn’t realize it then, but he would become a mentor and confidante to me later that decade when I joined the Administration in Washington as an Assistant Secretary of Energy amidst a brewing controversy over allegations of espionage being committed by Chinese American scientists.  Now and for the remainder of my life, I will continue to aspire to the ideals espoused, and example set, by Norman Mineta. May he long be remembered.” 

– Robert W. Gee, President of Gee Strategies; Assistant Secretary, US Department of Energy (1997 – 2000); Chair fo the Washington, D.C. Region at Committee of 100

And the following statement was issued by Zhengyu Huang, President of Committee of 100, on the passing of Norman Y. Mineta, on behalf of all of Committee of 100:  

“Committee of 100 joins the AAPI community and all Americans in expressing our deepest sympathy and the greatest respect and appreciation for the life of the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, who passed away at the age of 90. Mr. Mineta was a Japanese-American internment survivor, a horrific experience that he openly talked about as a means to educate all Americans. A long-time supporter of Committee of 100, Mr. Mineta spoke at numerous conferences and summits on the challenges and opportunities for the Asian American community. A 10-term U.S. Congressman, a cabinet secretary who served under both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, and someone who led the Department of Transportation during the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Mineta’s contributions to American society and the AAPI community will live on in our memory. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sorrowful time.”

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