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Biographies Unit Biographies

Tony Quang Lam 1936–
Community Leader and Elected Official

Tony Lam immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in the late 1970s. It was a time when many Vietnamese people were fleeing the war in their country.

Lam settled in Westminster, a city south of Los Angeles. He opened a restaurant. As more Vietnamese came, Lam realized that many immigrants needed help adjusting to a new life. So he organized English classes. He founded the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce to help immigrant businesses. Lam also helped organize a yearly community festival celebrating the Vietnamese holiday Tet.

In 1992, Lam ran for a seat on the Westminster City Council, and won. He became the first Vietnamese American elected to public office in the nation. He served for 10 years, retiring in 2002. He remains active in business and in his community. “When any group in our city needs help,” said the mayor of Westminster, “Tony is always there to answer the call.”

Comprehension Check

What did Lam do first when he came to California?

Critical Thinking

What do you think is Lam's most important contribution to his community? Why?