Huynh was born in Vietnam in 1965 and immigrated with his family to California by way of Taiwan. According to The Davis Enterprise, there had been friction between a small group of white students and a small group of Vietnamese students prior to a confrontation on campus between Huynh and Jay Pierman, 16.
Pierman used a long knife to stab Huynh in the torso, causing him to die within minutes. Pierman was charged with murder but was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years in the California Youth Authority. Huynh’s family and friends said the punishment was much too lenient.
A memorial plaque marks the spot in the school courtyard where Huynh died.
The Davis Human Relations Commission established the Thong H. Huynh Awards in 1983 to honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions in addressing or improving civil and human rights issues in the community. The first award was given in 1986.