SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This AAPI Heritage Month, we are highlighting a young man on the Peninsula whose art caught the eye of a prominent Bay Area leader for its social justice message.
For 15-year-old high school freshman Lucas Du, playing the piano is just one of the many ways he expresses his creativity. But this is a story not about tickling the ivories. It's about how news stories about hate crimes and attacks on Asian Americans - many, broken by ABC7's Dion Lim - inspired Lucas to use his creativity in another way.
"That's why I drew this painting and hopefully it'll spread awareness to people," said Du.
In the sketch-turned-painting titled "End The Violence," Lucas explains the three scenes.
In the top left corner, there's an image of a man, falling face-down onto a paved sidewalk. In 2021, Lim broke the story of dozens of attacks in Oakland's Chinatown, which included a 90-year-old man getting pushed violently to the ground.
"There's an elderly woman with a Band-Aid on her head, and on the bottom left there are people protesting to end the violence," said Lucas, from his family's Millbrae home.
This painting was part of a competition Lucas entered at Mills High School for United Against Hate Week. He then decided to submit it for the Congressional Art Competition, a nationwide contest encouraging artistic talent in each congressional district.
When asked if he expected to win, he said, "No, not at all. I had a lot of emotions, happy, shocked, nervous most of all."
Lucas ended up winning third place. Congresswoman Jackie Speier's presented him and the other winners from District 14 at an awards ceremony in Hillsborough this month.
But to his mother Minfang Gao, an immigrant from Shanghai, this recognition is part of an even bigger accomplishment.
"As a minority, if you don't speak for yourself, your voice will never be heard. I want him to be proud of being Asian American. I'm very proud of him," said Gao.
While Du continues to pursue his many hobbies such as martial arts and volunteering in his community, he encourages other young people with this message.
"I believe you should go out and do what you want, even something as little as... painting," Du.
Because you never know what could happen. Lucas' art, along with the 2nd place winner's, will hang in Congresswoman Speier's office for the rest of the year.
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