Contact: Frank H. Wu, Chairman
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(New York, NY, December 28, 2017) — The Committee of 100 (C100) mourns the passing of March Fong Eu, the long-time California Secretary of State who broke through barriers as a Chinese American elected official. Born behind a Chinese laundry in the San Joaquin Valley, she was elected to the State Assembly in 1966, serving four terms before being elected to oversee the political process in 1974. A third generation Californian, she was born when the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in force, and people of Asian descent also were unable to naturalize as citizens due to a color bar. As a female, she also was consistently the “first,” the right to vote being extended to women only two years before her birth.
Her first campaign for Secretary of State made news. Among her signature issues was a successful crusade against pay toilets, which she argued discriminated against women (since men could use urinals for free).
She was the first Asian American to serve in a constitutional office of the nation’s most populous state. She was re-elected four times, before being appointed by President Bill Clinton as Ambassador to Micronesia.
“We all owe March much gratitude for her pioneering in the public arena for all Asian Pacific Islanders. It is on her shoulders that we stand to make the progress of today. Our best return gift to her is to continue forward,” said C100 Governor Henry Tang. “She played an iconic role which we will not forget.”
At the time of her passing in Irvine, California, Mrs. Eu was 95. Mrs. Eu’s son, C100 member Matt Fong, preceded her death. He, too, entered public service, as a member of the U.S. armed forces and then California Treasurer.
C100 remembers Mrs. Eu as someone who showed Asian Americans could succeed in public life. She made a difference in the world.
Read her obituary, published in the Los Angeles Times on December 22, 2017.
The Committee of 100 is a non-partisan leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, and the arts. Since its founding in 1990, the Committee has been committed to a dual mission of promoting the full participation of Chinese Americans in all fields of American life, and encouraging constructive relations between the peoples of the United States and Greater China. www.committee100.org