Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month: Savannah woman shares her story

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 10:14 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’ve introduced you to some amazing Asian Americans making our community a better place to call home.

Today is the last day of AAPI Heritage Month and I recently met one woman who has deep family roots in the Hostess City, but spent her early years between Japan and Korea. WTOC found out how she’s making a name for herself in her family’s business, and creating a legacy for the next generation.

Michelle Adams’ father grew up in Savannah, but proudly spent almost a quarter of a century in the armed forces.

“I was born in Seoul Korea, my dad retired from the Air Force, 23 years he served our country, he met my mother in Korea, they got married,” said Adams.

After his retirement their family moved back to Savannah. As a young girl with an African American father and a Korean mother, she definitely experienced some culture shock back in the States.

“Just moving from a military base with all the children that were different colors and from different backgrounds,” she said. “Me being this little brown girl with the round face and eyes that look like this it was hard not making friends but hard identifying with a certain group.”

Adams says although she didn’t fit in with just one group, she had friends in many groups, and always made education a priority. She went on to study at Savannah State and loved her experience at the University by the Sea.

“I was a biology major so that looked a lot different too, a lot of different races in biology, and marine biology, it was really diverse.”

She later started dating Amari Adams, a longtime family friend, who would become her husband.

“Our dads are friends. His dad has been in funeral business for more than 40 years. Since my dad is from Savannah, so they were already familiar with each other. Whenever someone passed away they would use the funeral home that my father-in-law managed.”

Michelle had a biology degree and decided to put it to good use.

“After meeting my husband and seeing him and his dad work and their passion and how they gave back to the community it was more than just death care.”

She excelled in the funeral service education program, got licensed, and passed her exams. Three children later, she is now a licensed funeral director and Embalmer.

And as a Black Asian woman in a mostly male dominated field, she feels overjoyed to create a legacy for her daughter, and other young girls, for generations to come.

“It’s a blessing to be an example to be an example for her and other little girls that look like me on either end, Asian or African American, it’s a blessing, truly an honor to be an example.”

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