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Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community Celebrates 25 Years of Community Empowerment

The Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC) celebrated 25 years of driving community empowerment at their recent annual gala by honoring those that have been instrumental in supporting social change.

The CBCAC began as an informal group of Chinatown organizations in 1998. By 2001, the association became known as the Coalition for a Better Chinatown to advocate for a single legislative district at the city, county, state and federal level. By 2007, the coalition expanded to include more area social service agencies and changed its name to CBCAC.

Grace Chan McKibben, CBCAC executive director, noted the changes that have taken place over time.

“Twenty-five years ago, Chinatown was much different. Our population was half of what it is today. Chinatown Square’s business and residential development was in its infancy. A park to finally replace the park that Chinatown lost in the 1960’s was in quiet planning. Most immigrants still spoke Cantonese and Taishanese,” commented McKibben. “Today, we often use the term Greater Chinatown as our population has doubled and has spread to Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Brighton Park, Canaryville and beyond. Our community is the home of the city’s best neighborhood park and most utilized neighborhood branch library. Chicago’s Chinatown is touted in the national media as the only historic Chinatown that is still growing and flourishing.”

The event honored those who have championed Chinatown’s growth and community empowerment. The Esther Wong Community Award was presented to the Chinatown Neighborhood Watch. The C.W. Chan Chinatown Partner Awards were presented to Ald. Jason Ervin, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Ald. Gilbert Villegas and CHANGE Illinois.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Raymond Lee, a businessman who helped establish Chinatown Square, a popular outdoor mall in the area, as well as a generous donor that helped create other key community venues and resources.

The CBCAC is part of the UIC Asian Community Advisory Council.

For more information about CBCAC, visit: