AAPI Heritage Month

Ceremony on Angel Island Marks 140 Years Since Passage of Chinese Exclusion Act

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Friday marked 140 years since Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, restricting Chinese laborers from coming to the U.S. and preventing Chinese immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens.

Some call the anniversary therapeutic as it offers an opportunity to help others fully understand that dark time in history.

Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay was a front line of discrimination during that time, serving as an immigration port in the early 1900s where Chinese citizens were detained before being allowed into the country or deported.

On Friday, a number of people took park in a candle-lighting and wreath-laying ceremony at the Angel Island immigration station to commemorate the anniversary.

Rev. Norman Fong spent Friday honoring his dad, who immigrated to the U.S. during the Chinese Exclusion Act and arrived at Angel Island.

"We suffered because the Chinese Exclusion Act forced everyone to be undocumented or create some false identity in order to survive," he said. "And then realizing that is was really racism that created this. The Chinese in America should be proud of their history, not ashamed of it, like my dad."

Fond said he's grateful more youth are starting to care and invest in learning about Asian American and Pacific Islander history.

He also said education and understanding are the best ways to embrace differences.

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