In 2012, a national coalition of organizations petitioned Congress to acknowledge and apologize for Chinese Exclusion. Both houses of Congress passed resolutions of regret. California Congresswoman Judy Chu—the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress—shepherded the effort.
Generations of Chinese Americans have shown creativity, resourcefulness, and fortitude, and insisted on the freedom to belong. They have helped to shape what it means to be American. Our closing section explores the stories of recent decades.
One of the oldest Chinese American artifacts—the majestic head of a ceremonial dragon from the 1880s, belonging to the former gold rush town of Marysville, CA—is displayed here to commemorate the long presence of Chinese Americans. The dragon, Moo Lung, also honors the longstanding efforts of Chinese Americans to stake their claim for a place in America. Throughout the years of Exclusion, the dragon traveled the nation by rail, performing in cities and towns around the nation. It visited New York in 1911, performing in the July 4 parade.
A media installation, American Stories, scored by noted composer Jason Hwang, captures important events from the 1960s to today that continue the themes of equality and belonging explored in this exhibition.
Nine New Yorkers
The mini-exhibit Nine New Yorkers supplements the main exhibition by presenting brief portraits of nine distinguished Chinese Americans: Arnold Chang, Margaret Chin, Rachael Chong, Tarry Hum, Charles Lai, I.M. Pei, Betty Lee Sung, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, and Jeff Yang. Each has offered a vision, made an impact, broken barriers. All believe in the power of individuals to contribute to a better world.
Each portrait includes a life-size photograph, brief bio, and evocative object or sound piece, for example, Kelly Tsai’s wonderful spoken word performance, “Black, White, Whatever…”