Thais in Los Angeles (Images of America Series)
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Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai population outside of Thailand. With a relatively recent history of immigration to the United States dating to 1965, reports estimate that 80,000 Thais make their home in Southern California. In spite of its brief history in the United States, the Thai community in Los Angeles has already left its mark on the city. While the proliferation of Thai-owned businesses and shops has converted East Hollywood and some San Fernando Valley neighborhoods to destinations for cultural tourism, the Thai community in Los Angeles County reverberates still from global attention over the 1995 El Monte human trafficking case. The great popularity of Thai cuisine, textiles, and cultural festivals continues to preserve, enrich, and showcase one of Asia's most distinctive cultures.
with Siam during the 16th Annual Thai Cultural Day at Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood in 2008. Pictured at the center are Anne and Alisa Chatprapachai dressed as a Thai princess and her Lady in Waiting respectively. They are both daughters of prominent Thai community member Keith Chatprapachai. Pictured are the owner and staff of the second place restaurant in the Curry King Contest at Thai CDC’s first International Curry Festival, which was held in conjunction with the 5th Annual Thai New
Thai CDC believes that the development of Thai Town should address the fundamental needs of its residents for decent jobs, economic security, and decent and affordable housing. Thai Town helps achieve the three E’s for the Thai community—empowerment, education, and entrepreneurship. The first of many Thai community meetings held by Thai CDC to resurrect the Thai Town designation campaign from 1992 was on July 11, 1998. Through this meeting and several more, Thai CDC was able to recruit members
Day in September 2000, to publicize Thai CDC’s victory in obtaining five freeway signs for Thai Town on both sides of the Hollywood 101 Freeway at no charge, with the help of then-assemblyman Antonio Villaraigosa. In 2002, councilman Eric Garcetti is posing with the Thai Apsonsi angels and mimics the wai Thai greeting at a ceremony organized by Thai CDC in Thai Town to celebrate their arrival from Thailand. The City of Los Angeles declared it “City of Angels Day.” The Thai Apsonsi angels
required the Thai community to develop links with local government agencies, elected officials, and private foundations. The Thai CDC has organized and empowered disenfranchised Thais and advocated for their needs since 1994. The process of building strategic external links also goes beyond the neighborhood and has included electoral work and politics. It also involved coalitions and alliances with other ethnic communities to develop collective power. Such efforts have been particularly relevant
brought them to the Wat Thai of Los Angeles to receive the spiritual nourishment they were lacking throughout their enslavement for as long as seven years. The El Monte Thai workers celebrated their freedom at the Griffith Park Observatory above Hollywood with Chancee Martorell in August 1995. Soon after their liberation, the El Monte workers joined the Retailer Accountability Campaign. At a rally to protest Robinsons-May for profiting off of sweatshop labor, then–state senator Hilda Solis came