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Mellon Foundation Event: Chinese American History, Asian American Experiences (May 19)

Thursday, May 19 at 4:00 PM ET

Chinese immigrants and their descendants have shaped the United States, but their experiences are not always acknowledged as part of our collective history.  
Chinese American stories touch on every facet of the American experience: from those of immigrants who arrived at the US via the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco; to builders of the transcontinental railroad connecting America’s east and west; drivers of urban development and access to public education; and subjects of discrimination and anti-Chinese legislation. In sharing these histories, we can cultivate a fuller understanding of our current moment and promote truthful narratives about Chinese American histories and Asian American experiences.   
Join us as we celebrate under-told Chinese American stories and understand their place in our rich tapestry. Mellon Foundation President Dr. Elizabeth Alexander hosts a virtual livestream that is part history lesson and part conversation, featuring three leading authors, scholars, and advocates: Dr. Erika LeeDr. Mae Ngai, and Helen Zia.

Dr. Erika Lee


Dr. Erika Lee is an award-winning historian, author, and advocate. She is a Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies, Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, and President of the Organization of American Historians. The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, Lee was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Antiquarian Society and testified before Congress in its historic hearings on anti-Asian discrimination and violence. She is the author of four award-winning books including The Making of Asian America and America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in America, which won the American Book Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, as well as other honors. Named to many best books lists and identified as an essential book illuminating the Trump era and the 2020 elections, it was recently re-published with a new epilogue on xenophobia and racism during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Mae Ngai


Dr. Mae Ngai is a US legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is the author of several books, including the award-winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010). Dr. Ngai’s latest book, The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics (2021), won the 2002 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy and was a finalist for the LA Times book prize in history. The book studies how Chinese migration to the world’s goldfields upended global power and economics and forged modern conceptions of race. Ngai is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of American Historians, and the American Antiquarian Society. She has written on immigration history and policy matters for The Washington PostThe New York TimesLos Angeles TimesThe Nation, and The Atlantic. Before becoming a historian, she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education.

Read entire article at Mellon Foundation