Skip to main content

Glenda Joe / Houston Asian American community advocacy and festival arts records

Identifier: MS 667
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please contact for access and allow 24 hours retrieval time.

Scope and Contents

Records documenting the activities of Glenda Joe with the Houston Asian American Festival Association, as well as with community advocacy issues concerning the Asian American communities in Houston, circa 1980-2015.


  • 1980 - 2015

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please contact for access and allow 24 hours retrieval time.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. Contact

Biographical / Historical

Glenda Joe is a Chinese-Irish-Texan business owner, activist, and Asian festival director. She was born in Houston in 1954, where the Joe family has lived for several generations after immigrating from China in 1882. Glenda organized her first civil rights rally at age 13 and has since been a prominent activist for the Asian-American community in Houston, serving as a consultant for Asian issues in the Houston Police Department, writing the Asian Merchant’s Handbook to reduce interracial conflict in Asian-owned stores, and investigating hate crimes against Asians, to name a few. Her business, Great Wall Enterprises, is dedicated to helping Asian-Americans as well; it has done advertising and public awareness campaigns (raising awareness of immunizations, voting, the census) targeted to Asians, especially recent immigrants. In 1991, Glenda was the first Asian-American to run for Houston City Council; she also ran in 1993 but did lost both times. Glenda has also been a strong promoter of Asian arts in Houston. She first got involved in HAAFA in 1980 at age 26 and eventually became its executive director. She has led HAAFA in running the Houston Asian American Festival 1980-2007, Lunar New Year Houston 2008-present, the Asian Performing Arts Gala, and other cultural programs at Houston schools and universities. References:

Biographical / Historical

The Houston Asian American Festival Association was founded in 1980 by Bill Joe (Glenda Joe’s uncle), Bill & Eleanor Der Bing, Daniel & Akiko Watanabe, Dulal Datta, Phon Nguyen, CK Kim & Glenda Joe. In 1982, the project secured its formal nonprofit corporation status and has been led by various board members: Dr. Daniel Watanabe, Michael Chou, Yani Rose Keo, Rathna Kumar, Phan Duy, and Tony Joe Yeung. Glenda Joe has served as Executive Director. Its mission is to preserve, present and promote authentic Asian cultural arts in free admission annual events for the City of Houston. HAAFA has presented Houston's Asian American Festival (AAF) 1980-2007, and Lunar New Year Houston (LNYH) 2008-present. AAF and LNYH are pan-Asian celebrations, bringing together the performers, artists, and cuisines of many Asian countries including China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Pacific Islands. According to Glenda Joe: “HAAFA was organized in response to President Jimmy Carter’s first proclamation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Week in 1980. It was the first time Asians from all ethnicities convened to work for common cause in Houston. It was the catalyst for pan-Asian organizing around other civic and social issues affecting all Asians in Houston." Between 1980 and 1985, venues for Houston’s AAF were: Westbury Square, Sharpstown Center, Fonde Recreational Center. In 1985, Miller Theatre's general invited AAF to present pan-Asian arts annually. It was the first Asian cultural arts programming presented at Miller Theatre. It was the only pan Asian cultural arts presented on Miller Theatre stage until 1996. In 2006, Miller Theatre leadership changed. The new management, in a highly criticized action, singled out Houston’s AAF for a “test case” for clearing out ethnic community arts from their annual schedule. While AAF lost its battle to present at Miler Theatre, AAF’s legal protests and civic action precluded Miller Theatre from a wholesale ethnic cleansing of other small arts groups in its annual performance schedule. By 2007, appreciation and understanding of Asian cultural arts and the maturation of small arts groups mentored by AAF was a mission accomplished.


24 Linear Feet (24 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Glenda Joe, 2016.
Guide to the Glenda Joe / Houston Asian American community advocacy and festival arts records, circa 1980-2015
Amanda Focke (Woodson staff) and Tian-Tian He (Chao Center intern)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA