Author says ‘education’ is needed to prevent another Chinese Exclusion Act
Martin Gold, author of Forbidden Citizen, Chinese Exclusion and the US Congress, said that “continuous education’’ is needed to prevent enactment of legislation similar to the Chinese Exclusion Act that was repealed by the US Congress in 1943.
In remarks on Wednesday in Los Angeles to an audience of about 100, including ChineseAmerican leaders, on the heels of the 70th anniversary of the repeal of the act, Gold said the “education’’ should go beyond the Chinese community to reach the broad public.
Gold, whose book recounts the long and shameful history of the law, said such legislation is “not only a violation of the US Constitution, but also a violation of the “American spirit.” He made his comments at a Speakers Forum sponsored by the Committee of 100 (C-100) at the Advancing Justice Center.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law on May 6, 1882. At first it prohibited immigration of Chinese laborers. It was later revised to suspend all Chinese immigration, making Chinese the first group of people banned from entering the US. It was finally repealed on December 17, 1943.
Gold said his grandfather immigrated to the US from Russia and loved this country because of the opportunities it gave him to realize his American dream. “If my grandfather were a Chinese, he wouldn’t have had the opportunities,” Gold said.
“The repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act changed the course of history for Chinese and Asian Americans, and the expression of regret from the US Congress was a milestone for our community,” said Stewart Kwoh, a C-100 member and president and CEO of the Advancing Justice Center.
In a message from Washington, Congresswoman Judy Chu praised Gold: “Martin is my hero, who led the investigation and lobbied both the Democrats and Republicans on a pro bono basis. ‘’
Gold worked with Chu to get Congress to approve a resolution that formally expressed US regret for the Exclusion Act and other legislation that discriminated against people of Chinese origin. It was Chu who introduced the bill that the US House of Representatives passed in June 2012; the Senate passed a similar resolution in October 2011.
The Speakers Forum highlights major issues in US-China relations and the Asian American community, and is held in C-100’s five main regions — Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington and Greater China.
Martin Gold (right) and C-100 members.