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[TIMELINE] 23 Historical Milestones in APA History

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  • madchinaman
    23 BIG MILESTONES IN ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORY http://www.goldsea.com/AAD/Milestones/milestones.html In choosing events for inclusion we focused on those that
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24 11:31 PM

      In choosing events for inclusion we focused on those that
      represented steps forward — the events that enabled, liberated and
      inspired Asian Americans to grow, prosper, excel and dream. As
      between unheralded but seminal events (e.g. invention of the magnetic
      core memory by An Wang) and those public events that had an immediate
      impact on our perception of our place in American society, we chose
      the latter.

      We didn't include the boulders rolled into our paths (e.g.
      Chinese Exclusion Act) or those social earthquakes that remind us of
      the deep faultlines that continue to divide American society (e.g.
      Koreatown Riots) or those events that bespeak such racist abuses of
      authority as to galvanize the Asian American community into outraged
      action (e.g. letting off Vincent Chin's murderers with small fines).

      Ultimately, milestones are just markers. They serve to remind us
      of the nameless daily struggles by countless Asian Americans on the
      road to winning fair and dignified treatment and establishing
      ourselves as valuable and essential components of American society.

      April 12, 1847: First Asians arrive in the United States
      A group of three Chinese students arrived in New York City,
      becoming the first Asians officially entering the United States.
      However, Chinese records show that Chinese Buddhist priests traveled
      along the West Coast from present-day Brtish Columbia down to Baja
      California in 450 A.D. Spanish records show the existence of Chinese
      shipbuilders in present-day southern California between 1541 and
      1746. Chinese shopkeepers were already in Los Angeles when the first
      Anglo Americans arrived.

      The discovery of gold at Sutter's Creek, California on January 24,
      1848 would bring the first significant influx of Chinese to the
      United States. That wave was led by two men and a woman arriving in
      San Francisco on February 2, 1948 on the brig Eagle. The next
      significant wave of Chinese immigrants were laborers recruited from
      Amoy by 94 Hawaiian sugar companies in January of 1852.

      June 24, 1867: Chinese workers earn respect.
      Between five and seven thousand Chinese laborers working on the
      Transcontinental Railroad staged a strike in the Sierras to protest
      overseers who whipped and restrained them from seeking other work.
      They won the right not to be whipped or beaten. A second strike in
      the Nevada desert won the Chinese the right to receive the same pay
      as Whites, $35 a month. But the Chinese were still required to buy
      their own supplies while Whites got free room, board and supplies.

      The Chinese were smaller than the Whites, averaging 4'-10" and
      120 pounds, but they handled the 80-pound ties and 560-pound rail
      sections so well that by the time the last rails were joined at
      Promontory Summit, Utah, 11,000 Chinese comprised over nine of ten
      Central Pacific workers. To recognize their diligence, an all-Chinese
      crew of eight were given the honor of bringing up and placing the
      last section of rail on May 10, 1869.

      February 8, 1885: Japanese immigration begins.
      The first shipload of Japanese contract laborers arrived in
      Hawaii aboard The City of Tokio. It brought 676 men, 158 women and
      110 children. Among them was Katsu Goto, who would become a
      successful storekeeper after his three-year contract expired, then be
      murdered by Whites who resented his influence over Japanese laborers.
      It would become the most sensational murder case in the history of
      Asian immigration to Hawaii.

      March 28, 1898: Citizenship for U.S.-born Asians.
      The U.S. Supreme Court established that to deny citizenship to
      any person born in the United States would be in violation of the
      Fourteenth Amendment in U.S. vs. Wong Kim Ark. Wong Kim Ark had been
      born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants who had been denied
      citizenship under the Chinese Exclusion Act. At the age of 21 Wong
      left to visit his parents who had returned to China. On his return he
      was denied entry on the ground that he was not a citizen.

      This case was of critical importance to the eventual
      establishment of Asians in America, especially in the context of the
      era's frequent anti-Asian legislation and racism. On Oct 11, 1988 the
      Scott Act had prohibited the return of the over 20,000 Chinese
      laborers who had temporarily left the U.S. with the expectation of
      returning. On May 15, 1892 the Geary Act not only allowed the
      deportation of Chinese who were caught without a certificate of
      residence but extended the Chinese Exclusion act by a decade. The
      Chinese community had raised money to finance the case of Fong Yue-
      Ting vs U.S. to test the constutionality of the Geary Act only to
      have it upheld.

      The lack of full legal rights encouraged acts of violence
      against Chinese immigrants and hindered legal protection. On February
      2, 1886 anti-Chinese riots drove many residents from Seattle. The
      brutal two-day massacre of three Chinese miners in Snake River,
      Oregon on May 27, 1887 was covered up by officials. It finally came
      to light in 1995.

      April 4, 1900: The fight for humane working conditions.
      Japanese sugar plantation workers on Lahaina went on strike and
      won a 9-hour workday and most of their other demands. Just two months
      later on June 14, the Organic Act made U.S. laws applicable in the
      islands, effectively ending contract labor. It also gave native
      Hawaiians the right to vote, but expressly excluded persons of Asian
      origin. The state of affairs were no better on the mainland. On March
      18, 1901 the Supreme Court ruled in Sung vs. U.S. that the
      prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, cruel and
      unusual punishment and the right to a jury trial didn't apply to
      deportation hearings.

      The fight for better working conditions took another major step
      forward on February 11, 1903 when Japanese and Mexican farmworkers
      joined forces in Oxnard, CA to form the Japanese-Mexican Labor
      Association. It sponsored a strike by 1,500 sugar beet workers. But
      U.S. laws remained mostly anti-Asian. On April 6, 1903 the Supreme
      Court held in Kaoru vs Fisher that immigrants who were likely to
      become public charges could be taken into custody.

      It wasn't until November 9, 1909 that Asian immigrant farm
      workers were able to win the right to be paid on an equal footing
      with other nationalities following a four-month strike that began on
      May 9 with several hundred Japanese plantation workers and expanded
      to include 7,000 Hawaiian workers.

      January 13, 1903: Corean immigration begins.
      The first large group of Corean immigrants arrived in Hawaii on
      the S. S. Gaelic to work on sugar plantations. This first wave
      brought a total of 7,226 men, women and children. It ended when Corea
      was formally annexed by Japan in 1905.

      November 3, 1903: Filipino immigration begins.
      The 103 young scholars ("pensionados") who arrived in California
      marked the beginning of official Filipino immigration to the United
      States. However, they were by no means the first Filipinos on the
      North American continent. In the late 16th century a party of
      Filipino sailors set down from a galleon to claim Morro Bay,
      California for the Spanish king. The first permanent Filipino
      settlements were established in the bayous of Louisiana in 1763 by
      Manilamen, Spanish-speaking Filipino sailors who had jumped ship to
      escape the brutality of the Spaniards who had pressed them into
      service. They lived along the gulf on houses built on stilts and
      introduced the technique of sun-drying shrimp.

      The first wave of Filipino immigration comprised students and
      unskilled workers and lasted until 1934. They were followed by a
      second wave (1945-1965) comprising mostly soldiers who had fought
      with the U.S. during World War II. The third wave, which began in
      1966 and continues to the present, is characterized by professionals.

      August, 1914: The first Asian Hollywood star
      Sessue Hayakawa became the first Asian to star in a Hollywood
      film with the release of The Typhoon. Hayakawa was cast in the film
      when producer Thomas Ince became impressed by Hayakawa's unusually
      subtle and naturalistic acting style. He paid $500 for Hayakawa's
      services in that film, a handsome price for an unknown actor.

      Hayakawa had been a nobleman's son who had come to the U.S.
      initially in 1909 to study at the University of Chicago where he
      played on the football team. He returned to Japan and founded a
      touring troupe of entertainers. Returning to the U.S. in 1913, he had
      been acting in stage productions with a Japanese American theater
      group in Little Tokyo when discovered by Ince.

      Impressing American audience with his looks and unique acting
      style, Sessue Hayakawa quickly became a star. He starred in many
      successful films but they were mostly in villain or anti-hero roles.
      Frustrated by Hollywood's unwillingness to cast him in leading-man
      roles, in 1918 Hayakawa borrowed $1 million from a former University
      of Chicago classmate and founded Hayworth Films. Over the next three
      years he made 23 films and earned $2 million a year — a princely
      amount in those days. He later moved to Europe to escape American
      racial prejudices and enjoyed considerable success there. Near the
      end of his career, he was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of
      a vicious POW camp commandant in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).

      September, 1921: First Asian American female Hollywood star
      Anna May Wong became the first Asian female to receive "star"
      billing in a Hollywood film when Bits of Life appeared. Her role was
      small, but the 16-year-old displayed a distinctive flair, screen
      charisma and sex appeal. After several more minor roles, Wong landed
      a more substantial role in The Toll of the Sea (1922), a Madame
      Butterfly knockoff. The film's only distinction was being Hollywood's
      first true Technicolor feature.

      Its success and flattering notices for Wong's performance didn't
      spare the Los-Angeles-born actress from a series of supporting roles
      that increasingly exploited her as exotic flesh. The most famous was
      playing a Mongol slave in the Douglas Fairbanks costume fantasy The
      Thief of Baghdad (1924). The high point of Wong's Hollywood career
      was co-starring with Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (1932).

      Wong became increasingly angered at being forced to play vamps,
      villainesses and rape victims while white women performed in yellow-
      face. MGM considered her "too Chinese to play a Chinese" she once
      complained. Her biggest disappointment was losing the lead in Pearl
      S. Buck's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good Earth to Louise Rainer. The
      male lead had gone to a white actor and anti-miscegenation laws
      prevented Hollywood from casting a non-white to kiss him. Rainer won
      an Academy Award for her performance.

      In the 1930s a disillusioned Anna May Wong moved to Europe where
      more liberal racial attitudes gave her a broader range of roles.
      Recently Anna May Wong has been rediscovered as an Asian American
      woman with modern ideas whose first-order talent was stunted by
      Hollywood racial prejudices.

      January 17, 1943: First Asian American to lead combat battalion
      Colonel Young Oak Kim became the first Asian American officer to
      exercise command in a combat battalion. Upon graduating as a second
      lieutenant from Infantry Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning,
      Georgia, Kim chose to join the newly-formed all-nisei 100th Battalion
      though, as a Corean American, he could have joined a regular Army

      Kim's most famous exploit was a daylight mission in Anzio.
      Having volunteered to capture German soldiers for intelligence, he
      and another soldier crawled more than 600 yards directly under German
      observation posts without cover. They succeeded in capturing two
      prisoners and obtaining information that significantly contributed to
      the fall of Rome, for which Kim was awarded the Distinguished Service
      Cross. His 100th, along with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, became
      the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in U.S.
      military history.

      Even after participating in four deadly battles in Italy and
      France during World War II and suffering severe injuries that forced
      him out of action, Kim felt obliged to resume service as a
      battlefield commander when the Korean War broke out. He became the
      first Asian American to command a non-segregated U.S. combat
      battalion as CO of 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th US Army
      Division. Kim retired from the U.S. Army in 1972 as a full colonel
      after 30 years of active duty and became a respected leader in the
      Japanese American community. He remains history's most decorated
      Asian American soldier.

      April 17, 1952: Property rights for Asian immigrants
      The California Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the
      state's Alien Land Act in Fujii Sei vs State of California. The 1913
      law had been used to prevent Asian immigrants from owning property,
      regardless of their length of residence in the United States. The
      Japanese American Citizens League lobbied to place a measure on the
      general ballot to repeal the Act. It won by popular vote on November
      6, 1956.

      June 27, 1952: The right to become naturalized citizens
      McCarran-Walter Immigration Nationality Act abolished the
      Asiatic Barred Zone Act of February 5, 1917, but set an overall limit
      of only 2,000 immigrants per year from the region defined as "The
      Asia-Pacific Triangle." Filipinos were allowed the more liberal 2,000
      per year quota. The Act's primary benefit to Asian Americans was
      making Japanese- and Corean-born immigrants eligible for U.S.

      It reversed the The National Origins Act of May 26, 1924 which
      had excluded immigration of all Asian laborers with the exception of
      Filipinos who were considered U.S. colonial subjects.

      It also reversed the Supreme Court's November 13, 1922 opinion
      in Takao Ozawa vs. U.S. which upheld denial of citizenship to a U.S.-
      educated, 20-year resident on the grounds that Japanese are neither
      white nor African.

      August 1, 1952: First Asian American Olympic gold
      Major Sammy Lee, a 31-year-old Corean American army doctor who
      had served in two wars, became the first Asian American to win an
      Olympic medal when he took the gold medal for the 10-meter high
      dive. "The Oriental from Occidental" later coached Greg Louganis who
      went on to win record numbers of diving gold in the Seoul Olympics.

      August 21, 1959: First Asian American U.S. Senator
      Hiram Fong became the first Asian American to be elected to the
      U.S. Senate. At that time Fong was already one of Hawaii's most
      prominent citizens and successful businessmen. After graduating from
      McKinley High school and the University of Hawaii, he worked for
      several years to save money to attend Harvard Law School from which
      he graduated in 1935. After working as a Honolulu deputy city
      attorney and founding a law firm, Fong won a seat in the Territorial
      House of Representatives in 1938 at the age of 31. He went on to
      become a Speaker of the house who was popular with both Democrats and

      During WWII, Fong served as a judge advocate in the 7th Fighter
      Command of the 7th Air Force. He then founded numerous successful
      businesses. When Hawaii won statehood in 1959, the 14-year veteran of
      the state legislature had little trouble winning election to the U.S.
      Senate as a Republican. In 1964 he became the first Asian American to
      seek the Republican party's nomination as President of the United
      States. He retired from the Senate in 1977 to return to running his
      business interests

      October 3, 1965: Racist immigration laws abolished
      Lyndon Johnson signed into law The Immigration Act of 1965
      abolishing the racist "national origins" quota system. At long last
      Asian immigrant quotas were placed on an equal footing with those of
      other nationalities, reversing a long succession of anti-Asian
      legislation that began with the Naturalization Act of 1790 allowing
      only "free white persons" to become U.S. citizens. The quota for
      Asian nations was raised to 20,000 per year, the same as for European

      June 12, 1967: The right to intermarry with Whites
      The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were
      unconstitutional in Loving vs. Virginia. That ruling invalidated laws
      in 16 states that prevented Whites from marrying "colored" spouses,
      including Asians. Until then many Asians had been forced to move to
      more liberal states in order to marry.

      August 24, 1973: First Asian American Hollywood legend
      Bruce Lee became the first Asian American Hollywood action
      superstar and legend when Enter the Dragon premiered at Grauman's
      Chinese Theater. Unfortunately, the star had died on July 20 of a
      mysterious swelling of the brain. Death didn't keep Lee from becoming
      a global icon of martial arts action and a hero to Asian Americans
      fed up with stereotypes of Asian men as subservient sidekicks or
      unsavory villains.

      Bruce Lee had enjoyed some success as Kato, the Green Lantern's
      sidekick, but left for Hong Kong after being spurned as being "too
      Chinese" to play the lead in the Kung Fu TV series. It didn't matter
      to Hollywood that Lee had conceived the series as a vehicle for his
      martial arts skills. Lee renewed his assault on Hollywood with two
      low-budget Hong Kong-made features: Fists of Fury (1971) and The
      Chinese Connection (1972). Both were box office smash hits with
      global audiences, laying the groundwork for Warner Brothers to
      produce Enter the Dragon.

      November 5, 1976: First Asian American U.S. Senator from a mainland
      Dr. Samuel Ichiye (S. I.) Hayakawa became the first American of
      Asian descent to be elected to the U.S. Senate from a mainland state.
      The diminutive (5-6) Republican had become a popular symbol of no-
      nonsense conservatism after standing up to radical anti-war
      demonstrators as president of San Francisco State University. In his
      seventies when he took office, Hayakawa was criticized for falling
      asleep during Senate discussions. The Senate's business involved much
      that he couldn't "give a good goddamn" about, he explained. By the
      end of his term, both S. I. Hayakawa and his brand of feisty
      conservatism had fallen out of fashion. He did not seek a second

      Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa was born in Vancouver, Canada on July 18,
      1906 of Japanese immigrant parents. He became a naturalized U.S.
      citizen in 1955. He was a semanticist renowned for his love of the
      English language long before becoming a Senator. After leaving the
      Senate he once again became a galvanizing force for both major
      parties by introducing a constitutional amendment to require the use
      of English in all public discourses.

      August 10, 1988: Reparations for Japanese American internees
      House Resolution 442 was signed into law by President Ronald
      Reagan. It provides for a payment of $20,000 to each surviving
      Japanese American internee and a $1.25 billion education fund, among
      other provisions. It sought to address the sense of betrayal felt by
      Japanese Americans when FDR signed Executive Order 9066 on February
      19, 1942. It forced 110,000 Japanese Americans to liquidate their
      assets on 3-day notice and relocate to remote prison camps.

      The campaign to seek reparations was begun on July 10, 1970 by
      the western branch of the Japanese American Citizen's League. The
      campaign's emotional turning point came when 750 Japanese American
      witnesses recounted their experiences before the Commission on
      Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. The first $20,000
      redress payments were made on October 9, 1990 to 107-year-old Mamoru
      Eto and eight other elderly survivors.

      June 13, 1989: First Asian American Pro Sports Superstar
      Chinese American Michael Chang become the youngest male to win a
      Grand Slam (17 years, 3 1/2 months, a record that still stands) and
      the first American man in 34 years to win the French Open. The
      grueling five-set final against 3rd-ranked Stefan Edberg lasted 3
      hours and 41 minutes. When it was over, Chang had pulled off the
      year's second biggest upset by a score of 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
      Just a week earlier Chang had flabbergasted the tennis world by
      pulling off the biggest: a 5-set 4th-round win over top-ranked Ivan

      Michael Chang's 1989 French Open exploits made him the first
      Asian American to attain the status of a global sports superstar. The
      Hoboken, New Jersey native began his pro career at the age of 15 and
      went on to win 34 ATP career titles with earnings totaling over $18
      million before retiring on September 4, 2003.

      November 5, 1996: First Asian American governor of a mainland state
      Gary Locke became the first and only Asian American elected
      governor of a mainland state when he won the Washington State
      governorship by a wide margin. Locke's success in raising the state's
      educational standards and balancing its budget led to a landslide
      victory for a second term in 2000. A third term was virtually
      assured, but Locke announced in early 2004 that he would forego a
      third term in order to spend more time with his wife and two young
      children. That January Governor Locke commanded a national stage when
      he was chosen to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to President Bush's
      State of the Union Address.

      June 22, 1999: First Asian American chief of a military service
      Japanese American Eric K. Shinseki became the U.S. Army's
      highest-ranking officer when he took over as the 34th Chief of Staff.
      His term in office was marked by a push to remake the Army into a
      lighter, more mobile fighting force. Shinseki became a controversial
      figure when he ordered the Special Forces to switch to tan berets so
      the rest of the Army could sport black berets. He incurred the ire of
      the Bush administration when he correctly predicted that the U.S.
      would require a much larger force to occupy Iraq than called for in
      Pentagon plans. Shinseki retired from the Army on June 11, 2003
      because, he hinted, he was forced out by the Bush Administration.

      The Kauai native was placed on the Army's fast track after
      compiling one of the most distinguished records of any Vietnam
      veteran. Within a few months of graduating from West Point in 1965
      Second Lieutenant Shinseki went to Vietnam as an artillery forward
      observer. He went back for a second tour as commander of a tank
      squadron. He was wounded three times during those tours. On one
      occasion Shinseki's injuries were so severe that even his own
      sergeant assumed he had died in the hospital. Thirty years later,
      learning that Shinseki had survived, Les Cotton called him "the
      finest person and the best officer I have ever served with".
      Shinseki's valorous leadership under fire won him two Distinguished
      Service Medals, the Bronze Star and several Purple Hearts.

      July 25, 2000: First Asian American cabinet secretary
      Norman Mineta was confirmed Secretary of Commerce, becoming the
      first Asian American to be appointed to a cabinet-level post. Just
      six months later, he was confirmed as George Bush's new
      Transportation Secretary, making him the first person ever to serve
      in the cabinets of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

      Norman Mineta has enjoyed a distinguished political career that
      began in 1967 when he became the first minority to win a seat on the
      San Jose City Council. He set another milestone in 1971 when he was
      elected mayor, becoming the first Asian American mayor of a major
      city. After being elected to Congress in 1975 he led the push for the
      Japanese American Reparations bill (H.R. 442) and chaired the Public
      Works and Transportation Committee from 1992 to 1994 when the
      democrats lost control of Congress.
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