The Chinese American Democratic Club (CADC) was chartered in 1957 by the California State Democratic Central Committee and the California Democratic Council in response to growing political repression during a Republican administration and violations of Chinese American civil rights in the mid 1950s. CADC's founding signaled a new approach to assert Chinese American rights - participation in the partisan political process.
In its first decade, CADC allied with the then militant Young Democrats, led by the late Philip Burton, and espoused liberal causes. In its second decade, many young Chinese Americans, inspired by the civil rights and anti-war movements, joined CADC to seek political empowerment of the largely disenfranchised Chinese American population through voter registration and education; to champion racial and economic justice at home by promoting local anti-poverty programs and social agencies; and promoting world peace abroad by supporting efforts to end the war in Vietnam and for normalization of U.S.-China relations. These goals were carried over to the third decade as CADC emphasized coalition-building at the local and state level with other progressive Democratic clubs and groups.
Empowerment through the placement of Chinese Americans in elective and appointive offices became a priority, and many CADC members were elected and appointed to local and state offices. An influx of ethnic Chinese newcomers to the San Francisco Bay Area and California produced another generation of activists and infused CADC with new vitality and a new political vision that continues today.