Meet NAKASEC – George Lieu

Do you ever wonder who the people at NAKASEC and our affiliate centers, KRC and KRCC, are? Not just the staff, but the community members, volunteers, interns and board members? Well they are the ones who keep us grounded, help drive our campaigns and keep us motivated. You may have seen our seniors on the State Capitol fighting against budget cuts, our young people dancing, singing and shouting out for youth rights, our children playing poongmul (Korean drums) at rallies and marches.

Well, in order for you to get to know us better, we are rolling out our #meetNAKASEC Fridays where we will profile one person within our network. We hope you enjoy!

This is our second posting and we’d like for you to meet George!

Q: What’s your name?
A: My parents gave me the name ‘Youngkey Liey,’ but I changed it to ‘George Lieu’ for the sake of ease of use when I was naturalized in 1985 at a courthouse in Denver, Colorado.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Korea and came to Stillwater, Oklahoma to study many years ago. A few years later I went to Waco, Texas to teach at a college. A couple of years later, I moved to the history-rich University of Alabama, founded by Booker T. Washington and famous for George Washington Carver who was the inventor of peanut butter. I taught there for 11 years which got boring after I got tenured, so I ventured out to Chicago, where hard work, despair, harsh competition, pain, prayer and a little bit of joy coexist.

Q: Are you affiliated with NAKASEC, KRC and/or KRCC?
A: My paycheck comes from KRCC, although we (NAKASEC, KRC and KRCC) are all related as a team.

Q: What kind of work do you do with KRCC?
A: As a member of Team KRCC, each staff put efforts together into different areas and issues to try to make it successful. While my job title is ‘Immigrant Rights Organizer,’ that probably looks like a very odd area for an ‘economist’ (that was an area that I concentrated in before joining KRCC). But give it some deep thought and you may find harmony between these two seemingly unrelated areas of interest, i.e. economics is a social science, and involvement in neighborhood and community is the final destination for an economist.

These days I am involved in an ‘ordinance team’ with other orgs like APNC, LSNA and Enlace Chicago to make sure local law enforcement officers honor the 2006 Chicago Sanctuary city ordinance and 2007 Cook County Sanctuary Resolution. Together, we made a survey questionnaire and started conducting surveys, mostly from Latinos and Koreans. We will do this until the end of August and plan to visit with Chicago Police Chief McCarthy in September and then with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to present and discuss survey results.

Q: Why do you do the work that you do with KRCC?
A: Devotion to public interest and justice & keen concern with public policy are my two driving forces. What we all are doing belong, I think, to this genre. What I used to say to myself is “I am doing a right thing and there is nothing to lose any more.” I admit, however, that polemics abound.

Q: Is there a recent program, event and/or campaign you were recently involved with that stands out to you? If so, what is it and why?
A: Some national as well as location specific events and/or campaigns do stand out to me from time to time. But I think what stands out to me is more of a belief or a work ethic we strive for when doing certain events or campaigns, which is to find a common denominator and what area specific issues we need to concentrate on under capacity constraints each of us has.

Q: If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be and why?
A: Mr. Booker T. Washington in the 1870s because I want to learn how he overcame harsh criticisms and attacks on his so-called ‘five-finger but one hand’ argument at that very hostile time not only from Whites but also from fellow Blacks.

Q: What is your comfort food and why?
A: I can enjoy eating almost any food but most comfort food is food on the dinner table made by my wife because I can smell our own appetite and history from them.

 

Meet other folks at KRC, KRCC and NAKASEC!