It may have been forty-two years since the Fall of Saigon, also known as Black April, but the memories are still fresh in the minds of many. During the Vietnam War, many lives were lost and families were torn apart. Thousands of Vietnamese refugees fled to America to escape Communist rule, desperately seeking a new place to call home while mourning the one they just lost. This marked the beginning of a long and adversity-filled journey for freedom for many people as Vietnamese immigrants who have been uprooted from their society. However, with perseverance and determination, the refugees have managed to overcome the struggles of adjusting to a foreign country and living in an immigrant household to start new lives for themselves and their families.
In GGHS, a large percentage of our students come from Vietnamese ancestry, which makes Vietnamese culture a significant part of our community. Mr. Nguyen, a passionate Vietnamese 3 teacher, wants his students to remember the past of the Vietnamese, as well as honor those who fought and died during the Vietnam War. “Adolescents need to have a sense of identity and know where they’re from,” Mr. Nguyen says, “They have to know their roots to understand who they are. It’s also important for the community to see the young people honoring their Vietnamese background. The young students represent hope to the older generation that they will continue to keep the Vietnamese history alive in memory of those who have sacrificed their lives so [the students] could be here to enjoy the freedom they have. The new generation is the voice for those who don’t have one in the motherland, Vietnam.” Thus, Mr. Nguyen began the tradition of hosting a Black April protest.
For the past 10 years on April 30th, Mr. Nguyen, other Vietnamese teachers such as Ms. Cao and Ms. Tran, and GGHS students have all come out to the streets near the Asian Garden Mall (Phước Lộc Thọ) in Little Saigon, carrying Southern Vietnamese and American flags and signs. Together, they express their Vietnamese pride by chanting and singing songs for hours to spread awareness of the oppression of freedom and dehumanization happening in Vietnam.
Many spectators were moved by how the younger generation still remembered and appreciated their past, honking their cars and cheering in response as they drove by. Some even came by to offer food and to the hardworking students. “I went to the Black April protest because I wanted to see how the actual event affected the older Vietnamese community,” Andrew Doan (11) revealed, “To my surprise, they were very happy to see that the Vietnamese youth still cared and still mourned over such a tragic event. This protest affected me because I can no longer forget my family’s and other family’s scary experiences with the Communist Vietnamese government.” Tự do cho Việt Nam! Freedom for Vietnam!