October 1's Fact of the Week

Many of the poignant hopes and dreams of Vietnamese American refugees that fled their homeland to the United States following the Vietnam War envisioned better opportunities, education, and a safe haven to raise a family. On May 4, 1983, however, a racially-motivated attack and bullying incident left Thong Hy Huynh stabbed to death on the Davis High School campus in Davis, California, and a community scarred. Weeks before the incident, other students taunted Huynh and three Vietnamese students for not speaking fluent English and harassed them with racial slurs. Staying quiet, Huynh ignored their taunts. But tragically the tipping point happened when a fight broke out in the classroom between one of Huynh’s friends and a bully, both white, which led Huynh to intervene and defend his friend. The outcome of the fight resulted from racial tension that left Huynh on the floor with stabbing wounds and fatal injuries. The campus community planted a tree in his honor and established Friendship Day designed to break down racial, ethnic, and class barriers among students and promote a comfortable and inclusive environment. Moreover, the Davis Human Relations Commission annually presents the Thong H. Huynh Awards in commemoration of Huynh and aims to foster positive relations through education, understanding, and equal opportunity.