Roland Hwang named AAPI Heritage Month Game Changers honoree

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — Roland Hwang, who was born in Detroit to Chinese immigrants, has dedicated his life to advocating for others.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan, as well as a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws from Wayne State University Law School, Hwang started working as a lawyer at Ford Motor Company.

While he valued his time in the automotive sector, Hwang said that working as a volunteer attorney in the 1982 murder case of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was fatally beaten in Detroit, inspired him to become more civically engaged.

So in 1983, Hwang co-founded the American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), a Westland, Mich.-based nonprofit organization committed to protecting civil and human rights for all individuals, especially Asian Americans.

And now, the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Comerica Bank are kicking off Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month by recognizing Hwang as a “Game Changer” for his lasting impact in the community.

“We’re thrilled to honor Roland as a Game Changer for his long-standing commitment to bettering the lives of Michiganders,” said Kevin Brown, director of community impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “Throughout his career, he has placed human and civil rights at the center of his life’s work supporting Detroit communities.”

Hwang, who currently serves as president of ACJ, is proud that the nonprofit organization successfully incorporates social impact into its overarching mission and vision.

“It’s an organization that has a purpose,” Hwang said. “It fulfills a need for people who need advocacy or advice for how to pursue their civil rights.”

Eradicating discrimination and supporting justice-seeking individuals through non-violent means are two leading components of ACJ’s core values.

ACJ also promotes programs and activities designed to help members uphold organizational principles. For example, Hwang said it is significant that ACJ was the lead sponsor for the AAPI Film Series category at the 2023 Freep Film Festival.

“That is getting the word out,” Hwang said. “And having visibility for the Asian-American community, film producers and directors. It’s all part of educating people.”

Hwang frequently taps into his previous professional background while guiding ACJ. From 1988-2015, Hwang served as Michigan assistant attorney general. He also was appointed to the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission.

For Hwang, who has been a lecturer at the University of Michigan Department of American Culture since 1995, being named a Game Changers honoree motivates him to keep providing “service to the Asian American community.”

“It’s really quite an honor and very much a surprise,” Hwang said. “I’m just motivated to serve the community in whatever ways I can as a leader, advocate and teacher.”

To learn more about how to support ACJ, visit AmericanCitizensForJustice.org.

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