California’s governor recently signed a bill that ensures students in the state will be taught about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 as well as the contributions made by Chinese Americans in establishing the Transcontinental Railroad.
In San Francisco this week, a new exhibit opens that seeks to shed light on the struggles and successes of the Chinese American experience.
CCTV America’s Mark Niu has the details.
Exhibit exploring Chinese Exclusion Act opens in San FranciscoCalifornia’s governor recently signed a bill that ensures students in the state will be taught about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 as well as the contributions made by Chinese Americans in establishing the Transcontinental Railroad. In San Francisco this week, a new exhibit opens that seeks to shed light on the struggles and successes of the Chinese American experience.CCTV America’s Mark Niu has the details.
A complex history of both exclusion and inclusion. The experience sets sail from Guangzhou in the mid 1800’s, where junks of all sizes carried both freight and passengers.
“At first when the U.S. became a country there was a desire to do business with China.  There are echoes to today’s situation as well. But it wasn’t until large numbers of Chinese came to the U.S. that you really began to see the exclusionary aspects of our history,” said Sue Lee, the Executive Director of Chinese Historical Society of America.
Thousands of Chinese helped build the transcontinental railroad – yet no Chinese workers appeared in the photo celebrating the historic completion.
In 1882, Congress approved the Chinese Exclusion Act — the first law to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to America.
As part of the exhibit, an actual immigration hearing from 1911 has been recreated. You can hear 19-year-old Jung Joon being interrogated and trying to prove through a complicated and bureaucratic process that he meets to criteria for entry into the United States.
These are what the barracks were like for both immigrant women and men in detention.
Each person was just a number waiting for a hearing.
The Chinese Historical Society of America also recovered previously lost paintings from San Francisco artist Jake Lee depicting Chinatown life.
And there’s a graphic novel detailing the story of the Pangs – a typical Chinese American family from New York.
“Despite all the barriers of exclusion, Chinese built community here. They started Chinatowns, built small communities, so the remainder of the exhibition  shows how Chinese participated at every level of American society,” Sue Lee, executive director of Chinese Historical Society of America, said.
The exhibit will be a permanent one – though curators hope to add new items and stories in the future-to continue to capture the full Chinese American experience.