Each year at our Black April Commemoration at San Jose City Hall, we host a reception prior to the program where share the history and experiences of the Vietnamese Americans through shared visual art, audio recordings, photography and more. While we can’t join together in 2020 for the 45th Commemoration, we’ve compiled some of the collections and exhibits submitted by community members or organizations for you to explore and experience. A deep appreciation to our community friends and partners for sharing their work with us, especially during this shelter-in-place period.

Join Us – 45th Black April Commemoration – Facebook Live on April 30, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.


2020 Collection


1 – “Cơm Gia Đình / Family Dinners” a project by VAR (Link Here)

The Vietnamese family dinner is usually the heart of the family; where everyone comes together after a long day to share a meal. Everyone is expected to contribute to the dinner, from food prep, cooking, to setting up and clearing the table. For many families, this time is also about cultural retention – how do we pass along our family history and traditions through our meals at the dinner table?

For our 2018 Black April Commemoration, VAR collected a few family recipes along with the family’s refugee and immigration stories. For our 2020 commemoration, Kavi Vu, storyteller, spoken word artist and videographer from Atlanta, Georgia, created a video capturing the recipes, the story, and the memories behind one family’s recipe of bún riêu.


2 – “South Vietnam: Memories and Perspectives” a project from ICAN (Link Here)

This project by ICAN aims to bring the Vietnamese American community together, capturing the history and creating a legacy that would honor the older Vietnamese American generations and anchor the younger generations, and helping our children and grandchildren remember how their ancestors came to America.  “South Vietnam: Memories and Perspectives” engages members of the Vietnamese community in the San Jose area to record and share their stories in the form of written passages and images to ensure that future generations have access to the unique and under-represented perspectives of refugees and immigrants from South Vietnamese individuals: their lives, cultures and journeys through the Vietnam War and its aftermath, the exodus, and the acculturation process in America. ICAN would like to thank their partner agencies such as Viet Voters, Viet-American Mental Health Network, Vietnam Voluntary Foundation (VIVO), United Vietnamese American Neighbors (UVAN) and others.  We hope you, and many other groups and individuals would lend a hand in writing these historical chapters of our Vietnamese-American community.


3 – VAR Reading List & Vietnamese Culture Children’s Activity Book

Cultural learning is one of VAR’s three values.   Through our cultural events, we learn more about our community’s potential to narrate our stories, vocalize our issues, and mobilize our people. As refugees and children of refugees, we are mindful of the tragic conflicts around the world that have led to the exodus of millions of people from their homes. VAR seeks to encourage an understanding of the Vietnamese American immigrant experience and how it weaves together our past, present and future.   In 2016, VAR compiled a reading list of books and films available at the San José Public Library so that we can learn more from the diverse perspective of Vietnamese American authors, poets, illustrators, storytellers and filmmakers. During the 2020 shelter-in-place orders, VAR created a Vietnamese Culture Children’s Activity Book, reimagined from our SEEDS Youth Program summer activities, with arts and craft activities for parents and their young children.


4 – Ephemeral / Một Thoáng Qua by Alex Nguyễn (Link Here)

Ephemeral / Một Thoáng Qua is a short film by Alex Nguyễn from San Jose, California and is a selection the 2020 DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival and the 2020 Seattle Asian American Film Festival. The short is Alex’s love letter to the generation that left home, the generation that isn’t shown or told about the war and refugee experience, and to future generations to come.  Using raw footage, he wanted to depict the emotional struggle of loss, pain, grief — and the resiliency that Vietnamese people innately have because of who we are. It is our history and part of our identity. 

5 – What a time we are living in now by Alexander Nguyen (no relations to above) (Link Here)

What does April 30th mean? Alexander Nguyen (no relations to above) explores this question in blog and poetry.  As he tries to understand the war, April 30th means one word: memory. The memory that his ancestors went through to get to the United States for a better life. The memory that his dad went through to serve in the war and then forced into the reeducation camps. Viet Thanh Nguyen said, “All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” April 30th is a memory that will never die for the Vietnamese community. April 30th is a sad day for the Vietnamese community. Still, we must always remember the resistances and actions of the Vietnamese people.