On May 14, Tulsa Global District (TGD) and the Hmong American Association of Oklahoma organized the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Cultural Festival to celebrate the global cultures of Tulsa. The festival was in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.
As Tulsans walked into the tucked away AAPI Cultural Festival on 18 th and Garnett grass area behind the Turning Point Thrift Store, a few blocks away from the Nam-Hai Oriental Food Market, they were greeted with performances, booths from various nonprofits and a celebration from TGD.
The festival featured a fashion show representing Vietnamese, Korean, and Hmong cultures and countries. Two Hmong dance groups performed, an ethnic group that traditionally lived in Laos, Vietnam and China.
The festival celebrated the AAPI Heritage Month, in the month of May.
“Tulsa and the Global District have so much diversity and we want to be able to celebrate that. I think it’s important because it helps create and celebrate community, while also providing opportunities for Tulsans to experience a new culture,” Luisa Krug, the executive director of the TGD.
She further explained why creating AAPI community events are important. She said TGD anticipated that the AAPI Cultural Festival would be small, but the aim was to create an event for people to enjoy entertainment, connect to community resources, and meet people from the community.
TYPROS Foundation, Tulsa County Democratic Party, Rock the Native Vote, Gilcrease Museum, Uma Tulsa, Reading Partners, Tulsa Honor Academy, and the Tulsa City-County Library, among others set up booths at the festival. These organizations connected the community to library events, registering to vote, reading programs, and other resources.
The AAPI Cultural Festival is part of a bigger effort by the TGD to create festivals such as “Square at Nam Hai ” to celebrate the Vietnamese and Latino cultures of Tulsa. Krug explained, “They [Square festivals] give an opportunity to highlight the different cultures in one place. We want to create a place where people are excited to come to share their culture and learn about other cultures.”
To the organizers like Krug, the festivals highlight the cultural diversity in Tulsa and promote multiculturalism in the city.
“The mission of TGD is to serve all East Tulsa residents, entrepreneurs, and small business owners by fostering connection, economic opportunity, education and advocacy through inclusion and celebration of multicultural diversity. We are developing programs to support placemaking, marketing, events, and business advocacy,” Krug explained.
Overall, Krug plans are for the TGD help support businesses and communities in the Global District, while “preserving the authenticity and highlighting the things that make this area amazing and unique.” The ultimate goal is a district with walkable streets, thriving businesses, and residents.