Tex­ans cel­e­brate an­niver­sary of Ex­clu­sion Act re­peal

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By MAY ZHOU in Houston mayzhou@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

A hun­dred or so elected of­fi­cials and judges, po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates and mem­bers of the Asian com­mu­nity gath­ered at Fung’s Kitchen in Houston on Mon­day night to cel­e­brate the 70th an­niver­sary of the Re­peal of Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act.

Martin Gold, au­thor of For­bid­den Cit­i­zens: Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion and the US Congress: A Leg­isla­tive His­tory, re­counted the his­tory of the pas­sage and re­peal of the no­to­ri­ous 1882 act, as well as pas­sage of House Res­o­lu­tion 683 in July of 2012, a mea­sure re­gret­ting pas­sage of ex­clu­sion act that ad­versely af­fected peo­ple of Chi­nese ori­gin in the US be­cause of their eth­nic­ity.

The event was hosted by the Texas Asian Repub­li­can As­sem­bly (TARA) and the Texas Asian Repub­li­can Club of Houston, and spon­sored by the Repub­li­can Party of Texas.

Gold told the au­di­ence that it was dur­ing a visit to China in 2009 that he first learned about the Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act from a for­mer Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Is­rael and it cap­tured his in­ter­est. “At that time I did not know much about any of this,” he said, “and when I first heard about it, I thought it was an iso­lated piece of leg­is­la­tion passed in a mo­ment of un­rea­son. “

Gold went to a publisher and got a con­tract to write a book about it on his law firm’s pro bono time. “When I first started, I had in mind a book about half its cur­rent length be­cause I had no con­cept of how in­volved the his­tory was.” Gold combed through the leg­is­la­tion records since the 1800s to make sure he got all his facts right.

Later, through a for­mer Xin­hua News Agency jour­nal­ist, Gold learned that in the US the Chi­nese com­mu­nity was push­ing Congress to pass a res­o­lu­tion ac­knowl­edg­ing the his­tor­i­cal wrong­do­ing done to Chi­nese im­mi­grants and got in­volved. “I wanted to make sure the res­o­lu­tion was his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate. So in the end this re­search sup­ported my book and the re­search sup­ported the res­o­lu­tion,” he said.

Gold said that he has worked in Wash­ing­ton DC for al­most 40 years and has worked for a lot of causes in his life­time, “but noth­ing has been as in­ter­est­ing or as com­pelling or as worth­while and as per­son­ally sat­is­fy­ing as writ­ing this book”, he told the gath­er­ing.

Martha Wong, the first Asian Amer­i­can woman elected to the Houston City Coun­cil and the Texas House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives (now re­tired from both) and cur­rent pres­i­dent of TARA, em­ceed the event. She pointed out that many of the peo­ple in at­ten­dance were cur­rent or for­mer pub­lic of­fi­cials of Chi­nese ori­gin and their mere pres­ence demon­strated what great progress has been made in the 70 years since the Ex­clu­sion Act was re­pealed in 1943.

Wong said that TARA, newly es­tab­lished in June of this year for the grow­ing Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­nity through­out Texas, would fo­cus on re­cruit­ing more mem­bers and train­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion to get in­volved in the po­lit­i­cal process.

Steve Mu­nis­teri, chair­man of the Texas Repub­li­can Party, said that he learned about the Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act upon re­ceiv­ing the in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the event. “I did some re­search and I was amazed by what this act said,” he said. “I was so dis­turbed by this that I dis­cussed this with my fam­ily over Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. We need to pub­li­cize some­thing we are not proud of and learn from his­tory.”

Ed­mond Gor, na­tional pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Amer­i­can Cit­i­zen Al­liance (CACA), en­cour­aged peo­ple to spread the word about Gold’s book and the Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act to the next gen­er­a­tion.

MAY ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

Ed­mond Gor (right), na­tional pres­i­dent of the CACA, in­tro­duces Martin Gold and his new book For­bid­denCi­ti­zens:Chi­nese Ex­clu­sio­n­andtheUSCongress:ALeg­isla­tiveHis­tory.

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