The city of Davis Human Relations Commission is accepting nominations for the 2010 Thong Hy Huynh awards to showcase local human and civil rights activists’ successes.
The award was established to commemorate the life of Davis Senior High School student Thong Hy Huynh, who was stabbed to death in a racially motivated dispute on the Davis Senior High School campus in 1983.
The categories include the Humanitarian Award, the Young Humanitarian Award (for outstanding youth), Lifetime Achievement, Civil Rights Advocacy, Community Education and Awareness, Excellence in Community Involvement (for businesses or professional organizations) and Peace Officer of the Year.
“The intent of the different categories is to reach as broad a scope of individuals and groups as possible,” Kelly Stachowicz, Deputy City Manager, said.
In previous years, the majority of award recipients have been adults. However, Human Relations Commissioner Ann Privateer created a Young Humanitarian category two years ago to honor young advocates of civil and human rights in the Davis community.
“Since Huynh was a young person, I thought it was fitting to encourage young people to receive a humanitarian award. You shouldn’t have to wait all your life to be recognized,” Privateer said.
Privateer was working next door to Davis Senior High School at the Davis branch of the Yolo County Library when Huynh was killed.
According to a May 4, 2003 Davis Enterprise article “Reminders of the Past,” in spring of 1983, racial tensions escalated between a small group of white students and a small group of Vietnamese students at Davis High that ultimately resulted in the death of Huynh. Huynh, who immigrated to Davis from Vietnam around 1980, socialized primarily with a small group of four other Vietnamese immigrants at school. Another student named James Pierman moved to Davis from Southern California in 1982.
On May 4, 1983, a fight occurred when students yelling profanities in English triggered a response of cruel words in Vietnamese from the group of friends. During the confrontation, which lasted less than four minutes, Pierman snatched a knife from his car. Bob Messer, a teacher in a nearby classroom, found Huynh lying on the ground severely wounded. Huynh died in Police Chief Jerry Gonzalez’s arms.
Following the tragedy, the Davis City Council subsequently appointed the Human Relation Commission to deal with hate crimes.
“The Commission believes that ensuring young people are involved in and aware of human and civil rights issues is critical to the community. It would be really neat to have student nominees,” Stachowicz said.
Davis residents and members of Davis organizations are eligible nominees.
Last year’s recipients were Dorothy Foytik, Verena Borton, Rev. Kristin Stoneking, David Greenwald, the Episcopal Church of St. Martin and Davis Police Captain Darren Pytel.
Dorothy Foytik received the Lifetime Achievement award for her involvement in the Connections program, where she works with international women and families who move to Davis.
Verena Borton won the Humanitarian award for bringing awareness of different cultures, viewpoints and international and human rights issues to the community through a weekly film series.
Reverend Kristin Stoneking, director and campus minister at the CAL Aggie Christian Association, won the Civil Rights Advocacy award for her efforts in establishing the Multifaith Living Community.
“The Multifaith Living Community assists people in different faiths and people of no faith in understanding each other and breaking down misconceptions that can lead to discord or even hate crimes in the Davis community,” Stoneking said.
Stoneking said she felt honored to receive the award. She holds past recipients in high esteem and was therefore very humbled to be a part of the group.
David Greenwald received the Community Education and Awareness award for creating a blog that discusses local politics and offers an alternative to mainstream news sources.
The Episcopal Church of St. Martin won the Excellence in Community Involvement award for providing community meals for the homeless for many years.
Police Captain Darren Pytel received the Peace Officer of the Year award for his work with the Davis Joint Unified School District in offering ways to deal with truancy.
“There are so many heroes in Davis – sung and unsung – doing so many things to improve the lives of others. There is a wealth of generosity and kindness in the community,” Stachowicz said.
Obtain award nomination forms online at cityofdavis.org/cmo/press-releases/repository/2010-03-26.cfm, City Hall (23 Russell Blvd.), Hunt Boyer House (604 Second St.), the Yolo County Library in Davis or by calling at 757-5602.
Submit nomination forms by email (email@example.com), fax 757-5603, or in person to the City Manager’s office at City Hall (23 Russell Blvd.) no later than 4 p.m. on April 16.
The City of Davis Human Relations Commission will review the nominations. The City Council will present the 2010 Huynh Awards at the May 18 City Council meeting. Award recipients’ names will be listed on a permanent plaque in the foyer of Community Chambers at City Hall.
THERESA MONGELLUZZO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.