Monday, March 7, 2016

CHS Celebrates Women’s History Month
March Fong Eu

Portrait of March Fong Eu during Her Term as California State Assembly Woman,
15th District, 1967–1974
California Historical Society 
CHS promotes National Women’s History Month and its theme, “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government,” by acknowledging the contributions of March Fong Eu (born 1922).

As California’s Secretary of State (1975–1994), Eu was the country’s first Asian American woman to be elected to a statewide executive office, winning the election by a record vote of nearly 3 million. She also was the first Asian American state assembly member (1967–1974), representing Oakland and part of Castro Valley. In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed her for a two-year term as the second United States Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia.

Eu’s interest in politics began in high school, where she was active in student government. After receiving her doctoral degree in education from Stanford (1956), she began lobbying the state legislature on educational issues. That year, she became the first Asian American and the first woman to serve on the Alameda County Board of Education.

As Secretary of State, Eu set national trends in voting reforms, including bilingual ballots, voter registration by mail, and a voter outreach program, among other legislative improvements, and sponsored the establishment of the state’s World Trade Commission.

She vigorously championed women’s rights, introducing bills related to child-care and pregnancy leaves. "I have served as a successful role model for women and minorities,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1994, "and that has been a source of much pride to me.”

Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager
skale@calhist.org

Sources
  • Elliott Robert Barkan, ed., Making it in America: A Sourcebook on Eminent Ethnic Americans (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001)
  • Jerry Gilliam, “March Fong Eu Quits as Secretary of State,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 11, 1994
  • Valerie O’Regan, “Women in California Politics,” in Yuan Ting, Shelly Arsneault, Stephan Stambough, California Government in National Perspective, 8th edition (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2015)
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