Program Eight - Segment One: New Movement for Civil Rights

The 1980’s and 1990’s ushered in a time of hope and change for Asian Americans.  In 1981, Congress—under pressure from the Japanese American community seeking redress and reparations—held hearings across the country. After hearing the 750 testimonies from witnesses, the Commission on Wartime Relocation concluded the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two was indeed “a grave injustice.” And in 1988, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, authorizing a formal apology and 20-thousand-dollars in reparations to every survivor of the camps.   The next two decades would usher in a generation of Asian Americans who would continue to rise up against any new “grave injustices.” While some Asian Americans participated in civil rights struggles of the 1960s, others bought into the new stereotype of the “model minority”.  There was a strong belief if one played by the rules, anyone could succeed in America.  But two events greatly challenged the model minority myth and galvanized Asian American communities —the 1982 killing in Detroit of Vincent Chin and the 1999 accusations of spying against Wen Ho Lee.

Acknowledgements:

Alberta Lee and the Lee family, Helen Zia, NPR News Archives, Professor Bill Hing, and Reverend Norman Fong.

Produced by Reese Erlich

Photos:

Wen Ho Lee Slideshow

Music:

Aishu Venkataraman, Violinist is a 13-year old violin prodigy, playing in a South Indian style. As Divine Strings, she performs nationally while her father accompanies on drums. While attending middle school, Aishu also takes lessons in classical and bluegrass violin and has already been accepted to a summer program at the Berklee school of music. divinestrings.com

Further Internet Resources:

Bibliography:

Zia, Helen, Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.

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