Human Relations Commission Seeks Nominations for Thong Hy Huynh Awards

Thong Hy Huynh


By Aleeza Khan


DAVIS, CA – The Davis Human Relations Commission met on Jan. 27 to discuss the Annual Thong Hy Huynh Awards, a yearly commemoration of local achievements in social justice and equal rights activism.


As commissioner Lizelle Festejo Hsu explained, this recognition is “an example of how our community has taken such a tragic moment in our history and really turned it into something that is impactful.”


These awards are presented every year in memory of Thong Hy Huynh, a student at Davis High School who was killed in a violent hate crime on May 4, 1983.


First presented in 1986, these awards were established to raise awareness and honor community members who exemplify goals of diversity, community, social justice, and equal rights.


City Management Analyst Carrie Dyer provided an overview of the categories for the awards as well as a brief timeline for the submission process.


The categories for the Huynh awards are, “lifetime achievement,” “young humanitarian,” “civil rights advocacy,” “excellence in community involvement,” and “public servant of the year.” 


Dyer also clarified that “nominees should be residents of Davis or have been active in work that has impacted the Davis community.”


Nominations open on Feb. 7 and are due on March 16. 


“The nominations are then turned in, the commission will review them, and make recommendations of the recipients to the City Council,” said Dyer. The awards themselves will be presented in May, although it has not yet been decided whether the award ceremony will be held in person or online this year. 


Commissioner Edgar Wong-Chen raised concerns about a lack of publicity for the Huynh Awards in the past suggesting having “a more thorough discussion on the awareness and education behind this award.”


He then continued with a proposal to better open up the awards to UC Davis students, staff, and faculty. “A lot of the students I work with are doing amazing things,” Wong-Chen concluded. 


Public commenter Alan Hirsch emphasized the legacy and importance of the Huynh Awards stating, “If you have trouble getting nominations, don’t push water uphill. Don’t deflate the value of the award by just giving it to whoever is there.” 


Dyer retorted by affirming, “if the Commission determines no nominations received in a particular category are appropriate, no award will be presented in that category.”


For more details, the nomination form and guidelines for the 2022 Thong Hy Huynh Awards are available online. 


About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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