WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), other members of Congress, congressional staff, leaders from the media and entertainment industries, and members of the Asian American/Pacific Islander community came together May 16 to honor the life of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee at a reception and screening of a new documentary, “I Am Bruce Lee.”
The reception took place at the Motion Picture Association of America’s theater in downtown Washington, D.C. as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and is co-hosted by Comcast, Viacom, Spike TV, the Bruce Lee Foundation, and Meridian Hill Strategies, which represents the Bruce Lee Foundation.
“It is my privilege to introduce legislation honoring the life and contributions of Bruce Lee and the Bruce Lee Foundation and to be with such a diverse group of leaders to celebrate Bruce’s legacy as part of APA Heritage Month,” said Honda, immediate past chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “Bruce Lee’s legacy and the Bruce Lee Foundation continue to be a global force that bring people together, break down barriers and create opportunities for young people – in keeping with the values of excellence, leadership and inclusion that we celebrate this month.”
The resolution is co-sponsored by Reps. Judy Chu (D-El Monte), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands). Chu is the current chair of CAPAC.
Jackson said he was very pleased about the resolution because he considered Lee to be one of the most influential people of the 20th century and one of the most significant figures in Jackson’s own life. The Chicago congressman is a practitioner of kung fu and tae kwon do.
“Being great is one thing, but being remembered is another thing,” said Jon Jones, current UFC light heavyweight world champion. “To be great, magnificent and remembered, you have to stand for something and change the world in a way. People love Bruce Lee all over the world, and I want to have that same impact.”
At the reception, Honda presented Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee and Linda Lee Cadwell and president of the foundation, with a copy of the congressional resolution.
“We are deeply honored by the strong support we have received from Rep. Honda and the members of Congress, the entertainment industry, and leading stakeholders from AAPI community who are joining us tonight for the screening and reception to celebrate what my father stood for,” said Lee. “We are also very grateful for the congressional resolution that honors my father’s legacy and the work of our foundation, which puts his values into action every day in the form of education, scholarships and community enrichment.”
“As a powerful national voice for inclusion and reconciliation, it is very fitting that Congressman Honda joins with the Bruce Lee Foundation to bring a diverse group of lawmakers and stakeholders together to keep the torch of Bruce’s legacy burning brightly,” said Ernest Baynard, president of Meridian Hill Strategies. “Bruce Lee’s legacy is a living thing — we are incredibly grateful to Rep. Honda and all the members of Congress and stakeholders who are standing with us to keep that legacy alive and pay it forward for future generations.”
“We are proud to support this event to celebrate the work of the Bruce Lee Foundation as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month,” said Johnnie Giles, Comcast’s executive director for external affairs. “Along with … Mike Honda (and) other members of Congress, we honor the legacy of Bruce Lee. As part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Comcast is making over 350 entertainment choices highlighting Asian American Pacific Islander culture and contributions, including several of Bruce Lee’s films. Comcast is committed to bringing our customers diverse programming, and has continued to expand our Asian Pacific American programming across our viewing platforms.”
Lee is remembered for such films as “Enter the Dragon” (1973), “The Chinese Connection” (1972), and “Fists of Fury” (1971) as well as the TV show “The Green Hornet.”
“Spike TV is proud to partner with the Bruce Lee Foundation and Congressman Honda to celebrate this inspiring film that delivered critical acclaim and record ratings for the network,” said Kevin Kay, president of Spike TV.
For more information about the foundation, go to www.bruceleefoundation.com.
Text of Resolution
Recognizing the immense impact that Bruce Jun Fan Lee had on American and global popular culture and the important role he played in creating a bridge between cultures, championing values of self-respect, self-discipline, and tolerance in our Nation, and pioneering and cultivating the genres of martial arts, martial arts films, fitness and philosophy in the United States and the world.
Whereas Bruce Jun Fan Lee was born in the Hour of the Dragon, between 6 and 8 a.m., in the Year of the Dragon on Nov. 27, 1940, at the Jackson Street Hospital in San Francisco, Calif.’s Chinatown;
Whereas Bruce Lee returned to his family’s homeland at a young age and experienced first-hand the occupation of Hong Kong by the Japanese during the World War II years of 1941-1945, and the subsequent hostility and war that shook the continent;
Whereas Bruce Lee was motivated to learn and master the martial art style of Wing Chun gung fu in order to gain self confidence and overcome repeated instances of taunting, racism, and gang activity during his youth;
Whereas Bruce Lee’s athletic prowess, and his traits of self-discipline and determination, yielded him success in many other competitions, including the 1958 Crown Colony Cha Cha Championship in Hong Kong and the 1958 Hong Kong Inter-School Boxing Championship;
Whereas, in April of 1959, with only $100 to his name, Bruce boarded a steamship in the American Presidents Line and began his voyage back to San Francisco in the lower decks of the ship, demonstrating unbelievable courage and belief in America’s ability to prosper through hard work;
Whereas Bruce Lee understood the value of education and returned to the United States to fulfill the requirements for the equivalent of high school graduation at Edison Technical School in Seattle, Wash., in 1960 while bussing tables and washing dishes to support himself, subsequently enrolling at the University of Washington;
Whereas Bruce Lee respected and honored the culture of America, and undertook learning colloquial English with the same dedication as he had his martial arts training. With a goal of absolute mastery, he applied himself to learning the idiosyncrasies of speech, becoming proficient and fluent to the point of helping American students with their English papers;
Whereas, at the University of Washington Bruce majored in philosophy, his passion for gung fu having inspired a desire to delve into the philosophical underpinnings of the arts, and he subsequently lectured on Eastern philosophy at local high schools and wrote many essays during those years that relate philosophical principles to martial arts techniques;
Whereas Bruce taught the art of gung fu to support and pay for his education and he established the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in a friend’s basement before expanding to a bigger location in 1963;
Whereas Bruce looked beyond race and background by engaging in an interracial marriage with a Seattle local, Linda Emery, in 1964 and later fathered two biracial children in a family he supported and cared for until his death;
Whereas, in 1965, Bruce’s willingness to teach martial arts to non-Chinese individuals as a way to bridge the cultures angered many in the field, and forced him to defend himself and his freedom to teach, but victory in this contest paved the way for a spectacular and revolutionary discovery of blending physical fitness, gung fu and street combat into what is now called Jeet Kune Do;
Whereas the artistry and beauty of Jeet Kune Do led Bruce to Hollywood, where he became an authentic face for Chinese Americans and an inspiration to youth across the world, but despite rampant racism, Bruce’s strong, intelligent, and powerful persona was a means for optimism and hope for immigrants and fans alike;
Whereas, during the years of 1967-1971, Bruce read and wrote extensively his thoughts about physical combat, the psychology of fighting, the philosophical roots of martial arts, and about motivation, self-actualization and liberation of the individual, teachings that are the foundation of Jeet Kune Do, and of his legacy that is studied internationally to this day;
Whereas after suffering a back injury in 1970 and being told he would never do martial arts again, Bruce worked himself back into peak physical and mental condition using his own program of self motivation and physical therapy to recuperate;
Whereas, in the summer of 1971, due to hardships in overcoming stereotypes in Hollywood, Bruce decided to continue to pursue his dream of being an actor and supporting his family by going back to Hong Kong, where he had gained immense fame from his previous work on shows like “The Green Hornet” and became a hero in Hong Kong and a representative of a success story for the Chinese community in America and of the honor of both cultures;
Whereas, in 1972, Bruce created his own production company, Concord Films, using the Hollywood studio model for the first time in Hong Kong and began writing, directing, producing, acting in, and choreographing his own films;
Whereas, in 1973, due entirely to his relationships and successes in both nations, Bruce became a household name through the making of “Enter the Dragon,” the first film ever to bridge the Hong Kong and United States film industries, while overcoming language problems and production difficulties, but providing a viable and hugely successful link between the two countries;
Whereas, on July 20, 1973, Bruce fell into a coma as a result of taking pain medication to combat a minor headache. Unfortunately, Bruce would not live to see the opening of his film “Enter the Dragon,” nor would he experience the accumulated success of almost 40 years of all his films’ popularity;
Whereas the popularity of Bruce’s films sparked a national and international interest in the study of the martial arts and the genre of the martial arts action film, creating a proliferation of films and schools, and inspiring many youths to become more physically fit and philosophically minded in their daily lives;
Whereas Bruce Lee has been remembered today in many ways, having been named one of Time magazine’s 100 most important people of the 20th century, given a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, and honored on postage stamps in eight countries around the world;
Whereas even after Bruce Lee’s death, the Bruce Lee Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization formed by his wife and daughter, enriches lives, open minds, and breaks down barriers through the active proliferation of Bruce Lee’s legacy of undaunted optimism in the face of adversity, unwavering humanism, mental and physical perseverance, and inspirational presence of mind toward the betterment of our global community; and
Whereas the Bruce Lee Foundation also applies the legacy of Bruce Lee to the present day global community, showing how relevant Bruce Lee, his teachings, his thoughts, and his example still are today through their scholarship program, educational programs and their goal of building the Bruce Lee Action Museum (BLAM), an educational facility geared toward looking at how actions can change and mold our lives for the better: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that the House of Representatives —
(1) Honors the life and impact of Bruce Jun Fan Lee, an American success story whose legacy of persistence and honor resonates and inspires millions of citizens today; and
(2) Recognizes the profound importance of Bruce Lee’s teachings as a catalyst for popular culture and Chinese American history in the United States.