LHS Hosts Benefit Concert for AAPI History Inclusion


Chinese American Association of Lexington (CAAL) President Hua Wang Speaks at AAPI Concert. Photo by Michael Gordon

Joanna Liu and Vidula Mannem

On Nov. 11, Lexington High School students hosted an “Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) History Inclusion” Benefit Concert in the school auditorium. The 90-minute concert featured local performing arts groups as well as speeches from honorary guests, including Veteran William Chen.

Phoebe Tian, a LHS junior, organized the event to inspire greater Asian representation, given the rise in anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic. In late March, Tian and other members of the Lexington community gathered at a rally in Boston commons in response to the anti-Asian shootings in Atlanta days earlier. Following the event, she expressed her emotions in an original song, “We Are Proud to Be Asian,” which urges listeners to stop Asian hate and spread peace. The composition, which would serve as the finale of the benefit concert, inspired Tian to host the event.

From there, she recruited LHS students, parents, and sponsors to organize the event. Several LHS students served as volunteers, hosts, and sponsors, while others rehearsed for performances. 

“We worked together by [deciding] mini teams so we could focus on specific aspects of the concert, and then update each other as we went along…As we got more into the rhythm of the work, our efficiency, communication, and coverage improved,” Aaron Shao, a sophomore at LHS and concert co-host, said.

The concert featured 19 performances and speeches. Between LHS Wind Ensemble’s cultural rendition of “Chasing Sunlight” by Cait Nishimura and Angel Dance Company’s “Arirang Ode,” Dr. Hua Wang, President of the Chinese American Association of Lexington, gave a speech expressing his gratitude. Later that night, Michelle Ciccolo, Massachusetts State Representative, and Dr. Julie Hackett, Lexington Public Schools’ Superintendent, also spoke on the importance of AAPI inclusion.

According to volunteers and contributors, the event aimed to highlight AAPI cultures in the local community, while raising funds to include Asian American history in school textbooks.

“We’re here…to call for the incorporati[on] of AAPI into the curriculum. American history simply will not be complete without covering Asian Americans: our triumph, our success, and our struggles,” Wang said in his speech. 

Many Asian students agreed that including AAPI history in textbooks was critical to rewrite the narrative of anti-Asian hate and foster empathy within the Lexington community.

“I’m Asian myself and I’m very proud of my own identity..I want more people to know about and recognize Asian history because I feel like we belong to this community,” Vivian (Ziyun) Wang, a sophomore at LHS and leader of the advertising committee, said.

Aside from raising funds, Tian wanted the concert to be an address from the youth fighting against Asian-American hate.

“I think the main idea of this whole thing: it’s not only Asian pride, it’s not only Asian history inclusion..at the same time, it’s the courage to speak up. Even look at us young people of the next generation, the high schoolers, we’re even speaking up even if some of us…are a little bit scared,” Tian said. “We are coming together as one and are speaking up together.”