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Book Talk: The First Chinese American
April 6, 2014 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Forest Hills author Scott Seligman will discuss his book The First Chinese American, an early civil right leader who even coined that term.
For more information on this talk, see 1882project.org/newspress/wongchinfoo/
Scott says: I first saw Wong’s name on an Internet list of the most prominent Chinese Americans. Most were contemporary figures like I.M. Pei, Maya Lin, Gary Locke, Yoyo Ma – or going back a little bit further, people like Anna May Wong. Wong Chin Foo was described as a civil rights activist who had opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880s and 1890s. Since I had been under the impression that the Chinese community had more or less cowered in a defensive crouch and permitted this horrible piece of legislation to be brought down on their heads without much protest, I decided to try to learn a bit more about this Mr. Wong.
And I was richly rewarded for my trouble! Wong turned out to have been a colorful and engaging figure who was arguably the most famous Chinese in America during his lifetime. A firebrand who fought hard for citizenship rights for his countrymen in the United States, Wong actually coined the term “Chinese American.” He founded America’s first association of Chinese voters, published the first Chinese-language newspaper east of the Rockies and was probably the first Chinese to testify before Congress. He was also the first to introduce Americans to chop suey in print!
Join me to hear more about this intriguing civil rights leader: