Wong Chin Foo (1847-1898) was a journalist, lecturer, and activist who became an outspoken critic of anti-Chinese sentiment and stereotypes in America. In an 1877 lecture at Steinway Hall in New York, Wong quipped, “I never knew rats and dogs were good to eat until I learned it from Americans.” In the summer of 1883, when the anti-Chinese agitator Dennis Kearney was scheduled to speak at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, Wong challenged him to a duel to the death with his choice of weapon: “chopsticks, Irish potatoes, or Krupp guns.” As Chinese Exclusion Laws hardened, Wong stepped up his activism, founding the Chinese Equal Rights League in 1892 and testifying before Congress.

Wong was also the first to proclaim the identity, “Chinese American,” which he used as the title of his newspaper. One of the few extant copies of the paper is held in the New-York Historical Society Library and is displayed in the exhibition.

<strong><em>Wong Chin Foo</em></strong><strong>, ca. 1867-1870. Courtesy of the Phillip Chen Collection.</strong>

Wong Chin Foo, ca. 1867-1870. Courtesy of the Phillip Chen Collection.