In 1882 the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese laborers to come to America, didn’t allow Chinese immigrants who left to visit family to re-enter the country, and forbid Chinese nationals to become citizens of the United States. The Act existed for 60 years before it was repealed by congress in December 1943 — two years after China became a U.S. ally in World Word II.
For many, the history of discrimination towards Chinese immigrants in the United States is a reminder that globalization, immigration, labor, and civil rights issues have always been a part of the American experience which still resonates to this day. The decades of injustices that continued after the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act gave rise to activists, social workers and parents, like our founders who established Wu Yee Children’s Services to address the challenges faced by new immigrants in Chinatown.
On Sunday, March 19, 2017, the Center for Asian American Media CAAMFEST35 will present The Chinese Exclusion Act by documentary filmmaker Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu at the Castro Theater in San Francisco at 7:00 PM.
“The 60 years of national exclusion, racialized ordinances, and hate crimes, is more important than ever to bear witness to,” writes Stephen Gong, Executive Director of CAAM, on CAAMFEST35 website.
The Chinese Exclusion Act is also part of CAAM’s “Who is American?” educational and community outreach campaign that will aim to reach high school and college students to learn more about this significant piece of U.S. and Chinese history.
The two-hour documentary, which will also broadcast on PBS in May 2017, includes interviews with scholars and experts including Erika Lee, writer and professor at University of Minnesota; Jean Pfaelzer, writer and professor at University of Delaware; and Renqui Yu, historian and professor at State University of New York. As well as testimonies from those who came to the U.S. as “paper sons.”
Both filmmakers Rick Burns and Li-Shin Yu are expected to attend the showing along with producer Robin Espinola.
View The Chinese Exclusion Act official trailer here.
Buy tickets for The Chinese Exclusion Act showing at Castro Theater here.