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50 Important Dates in Asian American History

  • First Filipinos Arrived at Morro Bay

    First Filipinos Arrived at Morro Bay
    Momentous landmark in Asian American history that represented the first recorded arrival of any person with Asian-descent to the United States. Filipino Indios arrived at Morro Bay, California, along the central California coast. Spanish colonists and merchants during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade hired Manilamen, or Filipino laborers and sailors, to manage the ships and trade across the Pacific Ocean between Manila and Mexico.
  • Filipinos Shipwrecked at San Francisco Bay

    Filipinos Shipwrecked at San Francisco Bay
    Filipino laborers onboard the Portuguese galleon San Agustin shipwrecked near Point Reyes by the mouth of San Francisco Bay, California. The shipwreck would only be one of the many documented shipwrecks from other trade galleons at the time as a result of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. The 70 surviving crewmembers would return home by rowing a large canoe to Acapulco, Mexico, a two-month feat that eventually brought all of them to safety.
  • First Filipinos in the United States

    First Filipinos in the United States
    Known as “Manilamen,” these Filipinos jumped ship off the Spanish galleon as a result of the Manila Galleon Trade. They established a settlement in St. Malo, Louisiana, that became a shrimping and fishing village, later creating settlements such as Saint Malo, Manila Village in Barataria Bay. These early settlements were discovered by a Harpur’s Weekly journalist in 1883, and since then, Manilamen are regarded as the first Asians that came to the United States.
  • Antonio Miranda Rodriguez

    Antonio Miranda Rodriguez
    Antonio Miranda Rodriguez and his daughter were chosen to be one of the 46 founding and first settlers of the city of Los Angeles. Rodriguez and his daughter were of Philippine ancestry.
  • First Chinese Arrived on the East Coast of the United States

    First Chinese Arrived on the East Coast of the United States
    John O’Donnell, the commander of the East Indiaman Pallas, arrived in Baltimore, effectively opening up trade between Baltimore and Far East. 32 East Indian Lascars and 3 Chinese seamen named Ashing, Achun and Aceun were left stranded in Baltimore. The stranded crew reported O’Donnell to Congress saying that he brought them over to America against their will, but O’Donnell was eventually acquitted.
  • Eleanora and the first 24 "Manila Men"

    The Eleanora (captained by Simon Metcalfe) with 24 "Manilla men" and the Fair American (captained by Thomas Metcalfe) with 5 "Manilla men" sailed from China for the Pacific Northwest coast of America.
  • First Asian Indians in the U.S.

    Following American independence from the British, Indian immigrants began entering the independent U.S as maritime workers
  • Naturalization Act

    Naturalization Act
    The 1790 Naturalization Act was intended to prevent Chinese immigrants, along with other foreign-born people of color from becoming U.S. citizens. The process of naturalization to U.S., citizenship was to be restricted to free white persons (excluding indentured servants from Europe). Consequently, the 1790 Naturalization Act was widely used as legislation to exempt certain groups of Asian immigration up until the early 1950′s.
  • Filipino Soldiers in the 1812 War

    Filipino Soldiers in the 1812 War
    The Manilamen from the Filipino settlement at St. Malo fought for the American militia under General Jackson. According to oral history and Filipino historians, the militia was made up of common civilians and “pirates from the swamps of the Delta,” suspected and highly likely to be the Manilamen.
  • First Chinese Sailors in New York

    During the time in which Chinese workers were laboring on the sugar plantations in Hawaii, many Chinese overseas begin to migrant through into the United States through the increased trade between China and the other countries. This was the first sign of Chinese sailors in New York.
  • “Siamese Twins”

    “Siamese Twins”
    First twin Chinese babies found in Siam (now known as Thailand) to be connected by flesh at the chest. Chang and Eng became world-famous and known as “Siamese Twins” from which the term originated from. The twins toured the world, performing ordinary acts with their conjoined body, and eventually accepted and naturalized as an American citizen in North Carolina.
  • “The Chinese Lady”

     “The Chinese Lady”
    Juila Foochee ching-chang king (Afong Moy) was the first documented Chinese woman to come to America, arriving in the New York harbor. She was brought over by two American traders, Nathaniel and Frederick Carne, who placed Afong Moy in an exhibition hall on display on November 6, 1834. Spectators paid 25 cents to observe Moy eating with chopsticks, speaking Chinese, and waking around in her bound feet.
  • First Japanese Arrive in the United States

    The first documented Japanese arrive in the United States in 1843, with many working as domestic servants for middle-class white families. There were two main types of domestic servants 1) school boys, those who lived in the house to cook and serve household duties who could sometimes attend classes during the day, and 2) day workers who lived in boarding houses with the same tasks. In addition, man Japanese immigrants found occupations similar to Chinese immigrants.
  • First Chinese Students in the United States

    First Chinese Students in the United States
    Three Chinese students arrive in New York City for schooling. One of them, Yung Wing, graduates from Yale (class of 1854) and becomes the first Chinese to graduate from a U.S. college. Wing went on to have a long and diverse career as an interpreter, tea trader, diplomat, educator, military procurement specialist, and writer.
  • Gold Rush Period

    Gold Rush Period
    The gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Latin America, but in total, the news of gold brought over 300,000 people to California. The presence of gold encouraged thousands of Chinese immigrants to arrive during this period in U.S. history.
  • The Foreign Miners Tax

    The Foreign Miners Tax was enacted during the height of the Gold Rush, around when 20,000 Chinese immigrants migrated from China to California. During this time, the anti-Chinese sentiment surfaced in mining camps, and many Chinese miners received increasingly harsh treatment, and culminating when the legislature adopted a new foreign miners’ tax of $4 per month. The $4 dollar monthly fee levied against foreign miners who, but was a thinly veiled attempt to exclude Chinese and Mexican miners.
  • Norman Asing Protests Against Proposed Restrictions on Chinese Immigration

    Norman Asing, a recent immigrant from China as well as a self-appointed spokesperson for the Chinese-American community in California, wrote a letter of protest to Governor Bigler, which was published in the Daily Alta California. Asing contested Governor Bigler’s exploitation of anti-Chinese racism for political gain, citing his logical fallacies as well as the cultural wealth Asians bring to America.
  • Golden Hills News: First Chinese Newspaper Published

    Golden Hills’ News, established in San Francisco, was the first Chinese-language newspaper that became an outlet for Chinese-Americans to demand a greater respect for Chinese culture. An editorial published on June 10th, 1854 states, “We protest against making targets of the poor Chinese, and say, it is only fair, that Republicans should warmly encourage, cherish and protect every effort to diffuse the spirit of Christianity and Republicanism amongst that interesting race.”
  • Chinese Americans Barred from Testifying Against White People

    The California Supreme Court rules that a Chinese witness could not testify against a white man accused of murder. After George Hall was convicted of the murder of Ling Sing, based on the testimony of three Chinese witnesses, Hall’s lawyer argued that a California statute barring testimony by African Americans, mulattoes, and Indians applied to all non-whites. The court concurred.
  • First Anti-prostitution Law Directed at Chinese Brothels

    Ordinance 546 was passed in San Francisco by a committee that was motivated by the need for “the immediate expulsion or removal of Chinese prostitutes to a more uninhabited line of streets.” Although Ordinance 546 was initially directed at all races, the committee directed it at only Chinese and Mexican brothels to force them out of their homes and into undesirable neighborhoods while white brothels remained. This became a prime example of discrimination to single out Chinese women.
  • California's "Shipmasters Tax"

    California's "Shipmasters Tax"
    A tax of $50 imposed on shipmasters or ship owners for each foreign passenger ineligible for citizenship (i.e., Chinese). The California Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 1857.
  • Tacoma Incident

    Tacoma Incident
    An anti-Chinese racial incident in which white members of the Tacoma, Washington, community labeled Chinese as soulless, violations of health laws, and boycotted their business. Fears of a “yellow peril” shadowed over the community when demonstrations expelled the Chinese businesses and families out, forcing them to depart.
  • “The Chinese School” Created

    “The Chinese School” Created
    In an attempt to place Chinese children into public schools segregated from white Americans, “The Chinese School” was founded and presented itself for “Chinese only.” Chinese children were not allowed to any other school in San Francisco.
  • California's "Police Tax"

    California's "Police Tax"
    California imposes a “police tax” of $2.50 a month on all Chinese living in the state. The California Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional later in 1862.
  • Prohibition of Coolie Trade Act

    Prohibition of Coolie Trade Act
    Chinese laborers, termed “coolies,” were considered an alternative source of labor replacing slaves, and were forced to endure harrowing living conditions. U.S. Presidents from Pierce through Grant contested the manipulation of coolie labor in annual messages to Congress. President Lincoln eventually signed the Prohibition of Coolie Trade Act, which outlawed the involuntary trading of coolies as labor, only allowing voluntary immigrants from China.
  • Yick Wo v. Hopkins

    Yick Wo v. Hopkins
    Yick Wo v. Hopkins becomes the first case where the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a law with unequal impact on different groups is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment and thus, discriminatory (won by Chinese laundry men).
  • First Chinese-American Strike

    First Chinese-American Strike
    The Chinese workers on the Central Pacific Railroad demanded a higher wage (from 31/month to 45/month) and an 8-hour day. 5,000 laborers walked out “as one man”. The company offered to raise their wages from thirty-one to thirty-five dollars a month, but the strikers stood by their original demand. “Eight hours a day good for white men, all the same good for Chinamen.” Superintendent Crocker isolated the strikers and cut off their food supply, which resulted in the workers surrendering.
  • The Burlingame Treaty

    The Burlingame Treaty
    Established basic principles to ease immigration restrictions and represented a Chinese effort to limited American interferences in Chinese affairs. While the treaty temporarily granted China the Most Favored Nation status, the provisions were ultimately revered in 1882 with the Chinese Exclusion Act signed into law by President Chester A. Author.
  • Fourteenth Amendment Passes

    Fourteenth Amendment Passes
    The Fourteenth amendment passes as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. The amendment gives all persons born in the U.S. citizenship regardless of race.
  • Golden Spike Day

    Golden Spike Day
    The Transcontinental Railroad, originally known as the Pacific Railroad, was completed in May of 1869. This great American accomplishment could not have been achieved without the extraordinary efforts of Chinese Americans. The Chinese American workers comprised of at least 80% of the workforce, however while the white workers were given their monthly salary at about $35 including food and shelter, the Chinese immigrants received a salary of about $28, without food and shelter.
  • “First Chinatown”

    “First Chinatown”
    The first identifiable Chinatown in Los Angeles, California, was situated on Calle de Los Negros – Street of the Dark Hued Ones. Much smaller than the vibrant Chinatowns today, the first Chinatown was a short alley 50 feet wide, and one block long between El Pueblo Plaza and Old Arcadia Street. Despite the discrimination, the Chinese immigrants held a dominant economic position in the Los Angeles laundry and produce industries during this period.
  • “The Chinese Question” Cartoon

    “The Chinese Question” Cartoon
    Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, defends Chinese immigrants against the fierce prejudice and discrimination which they faced in late-nineteenth-century America. In the cartoon illustration, Columbia, the feminine symbol of the United States, shields the dejected Chinese man against a armed mob. On the wall behind Columbia are plastered slurs against the Chinese immigrants, who are labeled as barbarian, heathen, immoral, anti-family, and degraded labor.
  • Chinese Massacre

    Chinese Massacre
    The Chinese Massacre of 1871 was a racially motivated riot when a mob of over 500 white men entered Los Angeles’ Chinatown to attack, loot, and murder Chinese residents of the city. The riots were allegedly triggered by the killing of Robert Thompson, a rancher who was caught in the cross-fire during a gun battle between two Chinese factions. Scholars have attributed the riots to the growing movement of anti-Chinese in California, in addition to economic causes.
  • California Re-admitted Chinese Court Testimonies

    California’s Civil Procedure Code began to allow Chinese court testimonies after alleviating an old restriction in 1854, which prohibited Chinese court testimonies against whites.
  • Fee on Laundries

    San Francisco ordinance imposes a fee of $2 for laundries using one horse-drawn vehicle, $4 for those using two, and $15 for laundries without carts or more than two animals. THe orginance was invalidated by People v. Soon Kung.
  • Page Act

    Page Act
    The first federal immigration law, which restricted immigrations, who were considered “undesirable” from entering the United States. Some examples of those who were considered undesirable were Asian men who were contract laborers, Asian women who were prostitutes, and Asians who were convicts in their own country.
  • Queue Ordinance

     Queue Ordinance
    The Queue Ordinance, or the Pigtail Ordinance, was a law established to force prisoners in San Francisco, California, to have their hair cut within an inch of the scalp. While the law did not discriminate between races, it affected the Han Chinese prisoners in particular, as it meant that they would have to cut their queue, a waist-long braided pigtail and symbol of national identity.
  • Workingman’s Party

    Workingman’s Party
    Dennis Kearney, Irish immigrant and leader of the party, led violet attacks on the Chinese in San Fransisco in 1877. The party adopted the slogan “The Chinese Must Go”, and successfully elected candidates to state office. The Workingmans Party influenced much of California policies, and a number of them had connections to the officials at the Angel Island immigration center.
  • “Ah Sin”

    “Ah Sin”
    In a productive, yet tumultuous collaborative relationship, Mark Twain and Bret Harte present a caricature of the stereotypical Chinese man while satirizing the intense racism directed towards Chinese-Americans.
  • First Japanese Immigrant Association

    First Japanese Immigrant Association
    The Japanese Gospel Society (Fukuin Kai) forms; this is believed to be the first immigrant association formed by the Japanese.
  • First Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association or Six Companies

    First Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association or Six Companies
    Chinese community leaders in San Francisco formally established the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association or the Six Companies (the Six Companies: Hop Wo, Kong Chow, Ning Yung, Sam Yup, Yan Wo, and Yeong Wo Companies). To this day, the community organization represents and serves the Chinese community in San Francisco, and exists as old of the oldest and historical community organizations.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act

    Chinese Exclusion Act
    The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law by President Chester A. Author. The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited the immigration of new Chinese laborers for 10 years – groups that were exempt from the Exclusion Act were merchants, children, wives, students, teachers and labors already present before the passage of the act. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law in U.S. immigration history to define immigration as a criminal offense.
  • The Treaty of Chemulpo

    The Treaty of Chemulpo
    The Treaty of Chemulpo, also known as the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, began diplomatic relations between the United States and Korea, which allowed Korean immigrants into the United States. In 1904, the United States secretly nullified the Chemulpo Treaty in the Taft-Katsura Agreement.
  • Irwin Convention Brings First Group of Japanese Contract Laborers to Hawaii

    The Irwin Convention hires Japanese contract laborers to work in sugar plantations in Hawaii. Contract laborers would register to come to Hawaii aboard the SS City of Tokio, the first ship to carry Japanese migrants at the time. Until 1894, the organization would bring approximately 29,000 government-sponsored Japanese laborers on 3-year contracts. This would segue to Japanese migration to Hawaii and subsequently the Western Hemisphere.
  • First Japanese Migrants in Hawaii

    The City of Tokio arrived in Honolulu carrying the first 944 official migrants from Japan to Hawaii.
  • The Rock Springs Massacre

    The Rock Springs Massacre
    The Rock Springs Massacre, also known as the Rock Springs Riot, occurred on September 2, 1885. The riot which involved Chinese immigrant miners and white immigrant miners, was the result of racial tensions and an ongoing labor dispute over the policy of paying Chinese miners lower wages than white miners. The rioters burned 75 Chinese homes, and at least 28 Chinese miners were dead, with 15 injured.
  • The Scott Act

    The Scott Act
    The Scott Act was a piece of legislation that prohibited Chinese laborers abroad from returning to the United States. The main proponent of the legislation was William Lawrence Scott, member of the U.S. House of Representatives of Pennsylvania. The legislation was introduced as an extension of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and left an estimated 20,000 – 30,000 Chinese outside the United States at the time stranded.
  • Chae Chan Ping v. United States

    Chae Chan Ping v. United States
    Shortly after the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chae Chan Ping decided to re-enter the United States using original authorization. He was denied reentry. With an unanimous vote, the Supreme Court ruled, the United States government can constitutionally restriction the entrance of aliens as “an incident of sovereignty” because the treaties regarding Chinese Exclusion held the same value as a federal statue and can be repealed or modified based on Congress’ desire to do so.
  • Geary Act

    Geary Act
    The Geary Act was written by California Congressman Thomas J. Geary, and it extended the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The Act required all Chinese residents of the U.S. to carry a resident permit (America’s first internal passbook). Those who failed to carry the permit at all times were punished by deportation or a year at hard labor. In addition, Chinese were not allowed to bear witness in court, and could not receive bail in habeas corpus proceedings.
  • Fong Yue Ting v. United States

    Fong and two other Chinese men were arrested for violating provisions of the 1892 amendments to the Chinese Exclusion Act. The amendments not only continued to bar Chinese laborers from entering American shores but required those already in the United States to obtain a certificate of residence. This legislation became the constitutional bedrock for all subsequent questions as to Congress’ rights in regard to immigrants.
  • Gresham-Yang Treaty

    The Gresham-Yang Treaty accepted total prohibition of Chinese immigrants to the United States, in return for the readmission of those who left the United States back in China on a visit (the treaty nullified the Scott Act of 1888).
  • U.S. annexes Hawaii and the Philippines

    U.S. annexes Hawaii and the Philippines
    The U.S. annexes Hawaii and the Philippines as territories.
  • First Korean Immigrant Arrives to the United States

    Peter Ryu arrives in Hawaii on a Japanese ship as the first Korean.
  • First Significant Group of Korean Immigrants Arrived in the United States

    First Significant Group of Korean Immigrants Arrived in the United States
    The first significant group of Korean immigrants of 103 men, women, and children arrived at Honolulu Harbor on the S.S. Gaelic as contract laborers.
  • First Asian Indians Arrive in the United States

    The first wave of Asian Indian Immigration began in 1905 – 1924, and the majority of the 65,000 who arrived were from the North in Punjab. Overwhelmingly of these immigrants tended to be farm laborers, and had no formal education (less than 3.7 % were educated). Asian Indian communities were bachelor societies, in that there was a large gender imbalance of men to women, in fact, the ratio was 75 men to 1 woman.
  • Second Wave of Filipino Immigrants in the United States

    During 1905 to 1935, roughly 1000,000 Filipinos immigrated to the United states and Islands. The major push factor was war, mainly the Spanish American War of 1898, and the Philippine American War. California was the state with the largest numbers of Filipinos, that represented 45,000 Filipinos on the mainland. Roughly 80% of the Filipino immigrants were under the age of 30, and 96% of the 100,000 were male and only 4% were female.
  • Asiatic Exclusion League

    Asiatic Exclusion League
    The Asiatic Exclusion Leage was a racist organization formed in the early twentieth century in the United States that aimed to prevent immigration of people of East Asian origin. The Asiatic Exclusion League was formed in San Francisco, California, by labor unions of predominently European immigrants. The group’s stated aims were to spread anti-Asian propaganda and influence legislation restricting Asian immigration, specifically targeted were Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.
  • San Fransisco School Board Incident

    The San Fransisco School Board announces that they were going to make a separate school for just the Japanese, Chinese and Korean children. Up to this point, Chinese and Korean school children have always been segregated, but this announcement causes instant protest in the community. The announcement was later dropped by the school board.
  • San Francisco Earthquake

    San Francisco Earthquake
    The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 displaced hundreds of thousands of people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Largely damaged by the earthquake and fire was San Francisco’s Chinatown, hundreds of causalities in Chinatown went ignored and unrecorded. The 1906 earthquake and fire afforded a convenient excuse by city officials to claim Chinatown, and relocate the Chinese remaining in the city to segregated camps in a remote, cold, and windy corner of the Presidio.
  • Paper Sons

    Paper Sons
    After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, many Chinese claimed that they were born in San Francisco, which allowed them to claim citizenship or admission for others. Families would claim that they had sons in China, although many did not, and used the earthquake and the subsequently destruction of records to assist in helping others immigrate into the United States as “paper sons.”
  • Gentlemen’s Agreement

     Gentlemen’s Agreement
    An informal agreement between the US and the Emperor of Japan to not place restrictions on Japanese immigration, in return , Japan would restriction emigration out of the country to the US. While Congress never officially approved the agreement, the purpose was to reduce Japanese and US tensions in the Pacific after its defeat to the Soviet Union and the US, causing Japan to desire equal treatment.
  • Japanese Association of America

    At the behest of new San Francisco consul general Chozo Koike, the Japanese Association of America was organized as the new central body of local groups. It replaced the disbanded United Japanese Deliberative Council of America, which had been plagued by financial and other problems.
  • Angel Island Immigration Station Opens

     Angel Island Immigration Station Opens
    An immigrant processing facility in San Francisco Bay, referred to as the “west Ellis Island”. Angel Island was starkly different than Ellis Island, in that many of the 56, 000 Asian immigrants who came through Angel Island were held in the immigration detention centers for months, weeks, and even years. Angel Island is now a museum, attracting over thousands of tourists each year.
  • California Alien Land Law

    California Alien Land Law
    The California Alien Land Law prohibited “aliens ineligible for citizenship” (i.e., all Asian immigrants) from owning land or property, but permitted three year leases. It affected the Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Korean immigrant farmers in California. In order to bypass the legislation, many Japanese immigrants placed the title to the land to their American born children, or set up a corporate with American friends of lawyers.
  • The first Asian Hollywood star

    The first Asian Hollywood star
    Sessue Hayakawa became the first Asian to star in a Hollywood film with the release of The Typhoon.
  • “Barred Zone” Immigration Law

    “Barred Zone” Immigration Law
    Also know as Immigration Act of 1917 and the Asiatic Barred Zone Act. This law added to the list of “undesirables”, who were prevented from entering the country based on their national origins. Severe illnesses included, but were not limited to, epilepsy and mental illnesses/ physical deformations. Despite Woodrow Wilson’s previous veto of the act, the law received a majority support in the Senate and the House.
  • Trading With the Enemy Act

    Trading With the Enemy Act
    Criminalized sending money back to home to China for Chinese immigrants during McCarthy era.
  • First Asian American Woman Premiered in an American Film

    First Asian American Woman Premiered in an American Film
    Anna May Wong, a Chinese American actress, became the first Asian American actress when she was starred in Bits of Life. Wong went to star in other films, such as Toll of the Sea, The Thief of Bagdad, PIccadilly, and Daughter of the Dragon. Her acting career had been marred by the “Dragon Lady” and “Butterfly” stereotypes, which either depicted her as evil, sly, and deceitful, or naive and self-sacrificing. Wong remains to be well-recognized and even portrayed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • California Alien Land Law

    In 1920, the 1913 California Land Law was amended and made more restrictive. The amendments were aimed at Japanese and Chinese immigrants in California, and prohibited Asian farmers from owning, buying, and leasing land.
  • Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920

    Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920
    In a multiracial effort, 10,000 Japanese and Filipino workers went on strike in a sugar plantation in Hawaii. The two groups were unionized into the Filipino Labor Union and the Federation of Japanese Laborer. Even thought the strike was a peaceful demonstration, 150 workers lost their lives, which made it one of the deadliest peaceful demonstrations in 20th century Hawaii.
  • Ozawa v. United States

    The United States found Japanese immigrant, Takao Ozawa, ineligible for naturalization under the Naturalization Act, which allowed African- Americans and Caucasian to apply for citizenship through nativity. He did not challenge the racist nature of the law, instead he sought to have Japanese people classified as white. However, the explanation of the ruling against this notion, states that Caucasians are exclusively defined as white, restricting Asians from this classification.
  • Thind v. United States

     Thind v. United States
    The US Supreme Court ruled that Bhagat Singh Thind can not be naturalized as he was not of Caucasian decent. He defended the definition, which he fit, of Caucasian is someone of Aryan decent and has a high caste in society. However, this was not recognized by the US Supreme Court, which believed he didn’t fit the common understanding of Caucasian.
  • National Origins Act

    National Origins Act
    Also known as the Johnson-Reed Act. This act limited the amount of Asians who could enter the country from any Asian country to 2% of the number of people already residing in the US, a tight constraint since the 3% allowance in the 1921 Exclusion Act.
  • Hazel Ying Lee Becomes the First Chinese American Woman Aviator

    Hazel Ying Lee Becomes the First Chinese American Woman Aviator
    Although growing up as a Chinese American woman presented only a few opportunities at the time, Hazel Ying Lee rejected “invisible jobs” for women and was passionate about being a pilot. Stereotypes reinforced images of Chinese American women as passive and weak, but Lee was able to receive her flight license and then applied to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was accepted and her role as an aviator left a significant mark for the advancement of gender equality.
  • Tydings-McDuffie Act

     Tydings-McDuffie Act
    An United States federal law that established a 10-year Commonwealth period in the Philippines and independence from the United States. This set the timetable for a sovereign self-government in the Philippines.
  • “Nisei Week” Founded

    “Nisei Week” Founded
    Conceived during the economic depression, the “Nisei Week” festival was a means for bringing Japanese Americans together from all over California to reclaim their cultural heritage and celebrate. The festival became the largest and boosted business for Little Tokyo merchants in Los Angeles, California while also acting as a place for Japanese Americans to convene.
  • World War II Asian American Veterans Granted Citizenship

    World War II Asian American Veterans Granted Citizenship
    President Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted citizenship for 500 Asian Americans who served in armed services during World War II. The Public Law 162 granted several hundred veterans of Asian descent who had served in World War I the opportunity to apply for American citizenship through naturalization. However, many others would continue to not have and fight for citizenship even after serving in the war.
  • Angel Island Immigration Center Fire

    Angel Island Immigration Center Fire
    A fire destroyed the Administration Office and Detention of Angel Island, resulting in the UF mandated closing of the immigration center.
  • Pearl Harbor

    Pearl Harbor
    The Empire of Japan attacked the United States Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack was preventive, intended to stop the US Pacific Fleet from interfering with Japanese Southeast Asia campaign, against overseas allies, some of which were US allies. This initiated US involvement in World War II and later, the bombing of two Japanese cities.
  • Executive Order 9066

    Executive Order 9066
    Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an exclusion order that authorized the United States Secretary of War to detain and exclude individuals as deemed necessary regardless of ethnicity or race, and also transform specific areas into military zones. 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes and relocated into makeshift internment camps without an official trial and due process, determination of guilt, or evidence of espionage and sabotage.
  • Hirabayashi v. United States

    Hirabayashi v. United States
    Landmark United States Supreme Court case that contested the application of curfews as a result of the Executive Order 9066 during World War II. Hirabayashi, a Japanese American student at the University of Washington, violated his curfew and relocation order and subsequently arrested, convicted, and forcibly sent to an internment camp.
  • Magnunson Act

    Magnunson Act
    Repealed the exclusion of Chinese immigration, however there was a quota of 100 Chinese immigrants selected by U.S. government who were allowed to enter the United States annually.
  • Maggie Gee Takes Flight

    Maggie Gee Takes Flight
    One of the first Chinese American woman pilots, Maggie Gee received her flight licenses and joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Gee idolized Amelia Earhart and aspired to overcome obstacles and barriers to fly. Since women were not allowed to regularly serve in combat at the time, she trained male pilots and also co-piloted military planes for simulated mock dogfights. In 2010, she and other WASP pilots would receive the Congressional Gold Medal for her contributions.
  • 442nd Regimental Combat Team

    442nd Regimental Combat Team
    A regimental-size fighting group composed of almost entirely Japanese American soldiers became active in 1944 and fought in primarily Europe during World War II. The combat team would be one of the most decorated infantry regiments in the history of the United States Army and awarded with 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 9,486 Purple Hearts, and 21 Medal of Honors. The success and courage of the combat team would assure many rights for Japanese Americans in the subsequent years and ease restrictio
  • Korematsu v. United States

    Korematsu v. United States
    Executive Order 9066 to be constitutional. Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American that ignored the order to be relocated to an internment camp in order to stay with his girlfriend, was caught, arrested, and convicted. He contested the charges and argued that the order violated his constitutional rights provided to him as a citizen and that the order discriminated him based on his race, but the court confirmed his conviction.
  • War Brides Act

    War Brides Act
    Act that allowed spouses and adopted children of United States military officers, including many Asian, to immigrate to the United States after World War II on a non-quota basis. Despite the exclusionary laws targeting Asians during this time period, this Act became an important loophole for Asian veterans to bring and reunite with their families and wives to the country.
  • Oyama v. California

    Oyama v. California
    United States Supreme Court case that decided that specific provisions of the 1913 and 1920 California Alien Land Laws violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to Fred Oyama who as a Japanese American naturalized in the United States had purchased land on behalf of his father. While his father cannot own land under his name, because he could not apply for naturalization, his son, born in the United States and naturalized, can own land.
  • First Asian American Woman to Win Olympic Gold

    First Asian American Woman to Win Olympic Gold
    Victoria Manalo Draves was a Filipino American woman born in the United States that became the first woman to win two gold medals in diving in the same Olympics. Draves also the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal of any kind, a feat she accomplished in the 1948 London Olympics.
  • Internal Security Act

    Internal Security Act
    The Internal Security Act was the informal Chinese Confession Program during the Cold War, the provisions were targeted at immigrants and progressive political movements. The first provision extended the statute of limitations for any violation of immigration law. Any pass violation of immigration law even if committed earlier was still punishable by a fine, imprisonment or deportation.
  • Alien Land Laws Declared Unconstitutional

    Alien Land Laws Declared Unconstitutional
    In Fujii v. California, the California Supreme Court found the 1913 and 1920 California Alien Land Laws to be unconstitutional as discriminatory to a particular group of people.
  • McCarran – Walter Act

    McCarran – Walter Act
    The McCarran-Walter Act, also known as the Immigration and Nationality Act, removed total ban of Chinese immigrants but still upheld national origins quotas. The act illustrates a mixed bag in terms of reforms of Asian Americans. The first provision establishes naturalization rights and allows Asian immigrants to naturalize to U.S. citizenship. As a result of this provision, a anomalous status of “aliens ineligible to citizenship” is knocked off the U.S. immigration law.
  • United States v. China Daily News

    Supreme Court case that convicted Chinese American from the China Daily News, a newspaper publication, under the Trading With the Enemy Act that prohibited and criminalized sending monetary funds back to China.
  • First Asian American Congressman

    First Asian American Congressman
    Dalip Singh Saund, a South Asian American, becomes the first Asian American to be elected to the United States Congress. He advocated for South Asian naturalization rights and against corruption.
  • First Asian American U.S. Senator

    First Asian American U.S. Senator
    Hiram Fong became the first Asian American to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
  • Communist Accusations Led to Deportations

    Communist Accusations Led to Deportations
    Kimm v. Rosenberg was a Supreme Court decision that ruled that a Korean national should be deported if he/she refused to answer whether or not he/she was Communist. This was at the height of McCarthyism and certainly affected Asian American communities.
  • First Asian American in American Football

    First Asian American in American Football
    Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, Roman Gabriel was a Filipino American quarterback who was considered by many to have been one of the best quarterbacks in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was the first Asian American to have played in American football and also the first to ever be in the starting lineup.
  • First Chinese American Historical Society Established

    First Chinese American Historical Society Established
    In San Francisco, the Chinese Historical Society of America was established as a nonprofit organization and became the first Chinese historical society of its kind in the United States. The organization would continue to publish learning and educational material that documents Chinese history.
  • First Asian American Congresswoman

     First Asian American Congresswoman
    Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink became the first Asian American woman elected to Congress from Hawaii. She went on to oppose the Vietnam War, support peace, fight for civil rights, women’s rights, economic justice, civil liberties, and equal rights in education.
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965

    Voting Rights Act of 1965
    While voting had been largely restricted in the Asian American community, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited racial discrimination in voting and banned literacy tests and other discriminatory registration and voting practices that aimed to exclude voters from voting. This eased political participation to include limited-English proficient voters and prevented exclusion from voting based on color, race, or membership in a language minority group.
  • Model Minority Term Coined Towards Asian Americans

    Model Minority Term Coined Towards Asian Americans
    Term “model minority” first coined by sociologist WIlliam Petersen in an article he wrote for The New York Times Magazine, “Success story: Japanese American style,” that highlighted that the educational and financial success of Japanese Americans, relative to other immigrant groups, meant that they were able to overcome discrimination as a whole.
  • Richard Aoki Helped Found the Black Panther Party

    Richard Aoki Helped Found the Black Panther Party
    Richard Aoki was one of the most prominent Asian Americans involved in the civil rights movement in the United States. As a Sansei Japanese American, he maintained close relations with Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale and helped to found the Black Panther Party. He would have the position of field marshal and represented the only Asian American to have a formal leadership position. In the subsequent years, he would help lead the Third World Liberation Front at Berkeley.
  • Laws Prohibiting Interracial Marriage Declared Unconstitutional

    Laws Prohibiting Interracial Marriage Declared Unconstitutional
    Loving v. Virginia was a landmark civil rights decisions that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriages. The decision in this case would open the doors for Asian Americans to marry interracially and freely in the United States.
  • Immigration and Nationality Act

    Immigration and Nationality Act
    Also known as the Hart-Cellar Act, the legislation was momental immigration reform act that reversed years of restrictive immigration policies against Asia. The Act allowed a greater number of immigrants to enter the United States unrestricted by geographic location or origins.
  • San Francisco Third World Liberation Front

    San Francisco Third World Liberation Front
    San Francisco inter-ethnic movement started by student activist groups and organizations on college campuses to advocate for more class and programs about ethnic studies and history.
  • First Asian American Hollywood Legend

    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.
  • First Asian American In Space

    First Asian American In Space
    Ellison Shoji Onizuka, a Japanese American from Hawaii, became the first Asian American astronaut in space with the Space Shuttle Discovery. He served as a mission specialist on-board the shuttle and responsible for activities of the primary payloads, which included the unfolding of the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) surface. After 48 orbits around the Earth, he returned to Earth. Onizuka died in his second mission with Space Shuttle Challenger the following year that exploded shortly after launch.
  • First Filipino/a American Legislator in the United States

    First Filipino/a American Legislator in the United States
    Thelma Buchholdt became the first Filipino/a American legislator in the Alaska House of Representatives. Before her post, she was a leader in the civil rights movement and helped to establish a number of organizations and causes, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, March of Dimes, and League of Women Voters. She was also the first woman president of the Filipino Community of Anchorage for two terms.
  • First Asian American Governor

    First Asian American Governor
    Hawaii elected George R. Ariyoshi as the first Asian American governor to which he held as the longest-serving state governor for Hawaii in its history.
  • New York Chinatown Riots

    New York Chinatown Riots
    A case of police brutality and harassment, Peter Yew, an architectural engineer, was beaten, bloodied, and arrested during a minor traffic altercation in New York’s Chinatown. In the following months, Asian Americans for Equal Employment (AAFEE) would protest the arrest to argue against police racial subjugation and oppression. Thousands of protesters marched the mile from Chinatown to City Hall in a daring demonstration to incite change and political awareness.
  • Fall of Saigon + First Wave of Vietnamese Refugees

    Fall of Saigon + First Wave of Vietnamese Refugees
    When Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, fell on April 30, 1975 to North Vietnamese military forces, the first wave of Vietnamese refugees began. The first wave consisted of mainly South Vietnamese soldiers and their families that had relations to the United States that left Vietnam in fear of political persecution between 1975 and 1977.
  • Cheryl Song Debuted on Soul Train

    Cheryl Song Debuted on Soul Train
    A symbol of breaking racial barriers, Cheryl Song was a standout Asian American dancer that stayed on the show Soul Train for 14 consecutive years. She was highly criticized for being “non-black” or “yellow” at the beginning, but rose above those criticisms. She appeared in Michael Jackson’s music video, “Beat It,” and Rick James’ “Superfreak.”
  • Second Wave of Vietnamese Refugees

     Second Wave of Vietnamese Refugees
    The second wave of Vietnamese refugees started in 1977 until 1981. Under the fall of Saigon, the sprout of re-educational camps, socialist policies, and corruption influenced many to flee on makeshift boats. Nicknamed as “Vietnamese boatpeople,” men, women, and children all fled in horrible conditions, overcrowded, widespread sickness, starvation, dehydration, pirate attacks, and death.
  • Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Immigration

    Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Immigration
    After the fall of Saigon, the oppressive regime of Khmer Rouge gained power in Cambodia, which resulted in a dramatic increase of Cambodian refugees to flee the country to refugee camps in Thailand. There, they would wait to be resettled in the United States.
  • Refugee Act of 1980

    Refugee Act of 1980
    Act that reformed the United States immigration law in defined “refugee,” reduced restrictions on entry, and admitted refugees on a systematic basis for humanitarian reasons. Primarily, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian political refugees were all greatly affected by this Act which supported their immigration to the United States.
  • Murder of Vincent Chin

    Murder of Vincent Chin
    Vincent Chin was a Chinese American murdered in Detriot, Michigan by Crysler superintendent Ronald Ebens, and his stepson Michael Nitz. Many of the layoffs in Detriot’s auto industry was blamed on the increasing market share of Japanese automakers – leading to allegations that Vincent Chin received racially charged comments before his death. The case became a pivotal point for the Asian American community, and is often considered the beginning of the pan-ethnic Asian American movement.
  • Thong Hy Huynh Racial and Bullying Incident

    Thong Hy Huynh Racial and Bullying Incident
    In Davis, California, a student at the Davis High School campus stabbed Thong Hy Huynh to death. He was a victim of a racially motivated attack and a bullying incident that emerged from prior incidents in which students taunted Huynh and his Vietnamese friends for not speaking fluent English, harassing them with racial slurs. The tipping point came when a fight broke out in the classroom with Huynh’s friend and a bully. Huynh intervened to help defend his friend, but was fatal stabbed to death.
  • Korematsu v. United States Overturned

    Korematsu v. United States Overturned
    Influenced by the beginning of the Japanese American movement for redress and reparations, Korematsu filed for a writ of coram nobis to challenge his conviction for violating Executive Order 9066 by not reporting to the internment camps. Shortly after deciding to re-open his case, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco formally overturned his conviction.
  • Civil Liberties Act Signed

    Civil Liberties Act Signed
    Act that granted reparations to Japanese Americans interned during World War II as a result of Executive Order 9066. The Act granted each surviving internee with about $20,000 dollars in compensation. Moreover, the United States apologized and recognized that the internment had been unjust based on race prejudice, war hysteria, and failed political leadership.
  • Joy Luck Club Published

    Joy Luck Club Published
    A best-selling novel by author Amy Tan, the Joy Luck Club would provide a unique insight for many Americans on the lives of Chinese American immigrants and culture. The book would enjoy 8 months on The New York Times bestseller’s list and turn into a movie in the subsequent years.
  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

    Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
    President George H. W. Bush signs a congressional bill that designates May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) in commemoration to the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843 and mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. To the present day, May is celebrated with a yearly theme, cultural celebrations, festivals, discussions, and activities.
  • Walker Wall Incident

    Walker Wall Incident
    Amidst the struggle for Asian American Studies, students wrote “Asian American Studies Now!” on Walker Wall of the Pomona College in the Claremont Colleges in support for more Asian American Studies courses and faculty members. Walker Wall was a popular campus site for student graffiti and semi-sanctioned by the university. However, overnight the words were changed and defaced to read “Asian Americans die Now!” sparking fear and disbelief among the Asian American community at Pomona.
  • LA Riot

    LA Riot
    The LA Riots were sparked when a jury acquitted three white and one Hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King. Thousands of people in the Los Angeles area rioted over the six days following the verdict. Many Korean businesses looted and burned as a result of riots in Los Angeles due to outrage over Rodney King verdict.
  • Norman Mineta as first Asian American Cabinet Member

    Norman Mineta as first Asian American Cabinet Member
    President Bill Clinton appoints Norman Mineta as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the first Asian American to be appointed to the Cabinet.
  • September 11 Attacks

    September 11 Attacks
    World Trade Centers in New York City collapsed as a result of suicide attacks that involved two hijacked commercial jet airliners crashing into the towers. A third hijacked commercial jet airliner crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The United States pointed that the terrorist attacks were affliated with al-Queda, a militant Islamic terrorist organization, and called for retribution against Osama bin Laden. Most importantly, the attacks sparked an outbreak of discrimination, violence, a
  • Murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi

     Murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi
    Balbir Singh Sodhi was a Sikh American who is a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona. In the aftermath of 9/11, Balbir was shot five times by Frank Rogue and died instantly. During this time there was a upwards trend of several hundreds of cases targeting individuals of south Asian descent. Balbir Singh Sodhi’s case was the first case post 9/11 to be identified a hate crime, and a rallying point for the Muslim American community against racial profiling.
  • U.S. Patriot Act

    U.S. Patriot Act
    U.S. Patriot Act is considered by Congess to restrict the flow of immigrants and potential terrorists into the U.S. This Act has subsequently left to unfair treatment and detainment of South Asian persons.
  • First Asian American Band to Top Billboard

    First Asian American Band to Top Billboard
    Far East Movement is the first Asian American Band earn a top ten hit on the Mainstream Pop charts in the United States. Far East Movement is an Asian American electro hop quartet based in Los Angeles, and consists of Kevin Nishimura, James Roh, Jae Choung, and Virman Coquia. Their single “Like a G6″ hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in December of 2010.
  • Bobby Jindal Elected to Congress

    Bobby Jindal Elected to Congress
    Piyush “Bobby” Jindal elected to Congress representing Louisiana. Bobby is the first Indian American to win a congressional seat in 46 years. At age 36, Jindal becomes the youngest current governor in the United States. He is the first elected non-white Governor of Louisiana and the first American governor of Indian American descent.
  • New Orleans and Vietnamese Americans

    New Orleans and Vietnamese Americans
    In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Father Nguyen The Vien organizes residents in the New Orleans East community to help residents return to their homes and rebuild their lives. His work especially impacts Versailles, a neighborhood in New Orleans whose residents are a tight knit group of Vietnamese Americans. Their story is documented in a film entitled, A Village Called Versailles, which becomes an award-winning documentary.
  • Anh Cao Elected as Representative in New Orleans

    Anh Cao Elected as Representative in New Orleans
    Anh Cao wins a special election for a seat in the House of Representatives, representing New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the first Vietnamese-American to serve in Congress.
  • Filipino War Veterans Compensated

    Filipino War Veterans Compensated
    President Barack Obama signs a stimulus bill that compensates the Filipino war veterans that served in the United States military in World War II. The bill authorizes a $198 million payout. Each Filipino veteran who became a U.S. citizen is eligible for $15,000; each noncitizen, $9,000.
  • First Asian American President in Ivy League

     First Asian American President in Ivy League
    Jim Yong Kim, a Korean American physician, anthropologist, global health leader, and professor, becomes the first Asian American Ivy League president of Dartmouth College. He is also the first male president of color in the Ivy League. Prior to his appointment, Kim served as the Director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, where he focused on initiatives to help developing countries with improving their treatment, prevision, and care programs.
  • Jeremy Lin

    Jeremy Lin
    Jeremy Lin became the first American born player in the NBA player to be of Taiwanese descent signed out of Harvard into a two year deal with the Golden State Warriors. Despite a strong track record on the Harvard Mens NCAA team, it wasn't until his debut with the New York Knicks that people began to believe: Lin-sanity.
  • United States v. Wong Kim Ark

     United States v. Wong Kim Ark
    Pivotal Supreme Court case that decided jus soli determined that Chinese Americans born and have residency in the United States are naturalized and have an American citizenship.
  • Central Pacific Railroad Co. Recruited for Transcontinental Railroad

    Central Pacific Railroad Co. Recruited for Transcontinental Railroad
    Chinese workers are hired by the Central Pacific Railroad Co. to help build the Transcontinental Railroad.