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Where EAST meets the Northwest

ASIAN AMERICANS. Antero Cabrera (Ba-Long-Long) represents an Igorot villager as part of a "Living Exhibit" at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. A new documentary, Asian Americans, is premiering May 11 on Oregon Public Broadcasting. (Public domain photo)

HERITAGE MONTH DOCUMENTARY. The storefront of a Chinatown meat and vegetable market is seen in San Francisco, California, in 1895. (Photo courtesy of the University of Washington, Special Collections)

Pictured are the Anh siblings during World War II. (Photo courtesy of Asian Americans)

Bhagat Singh Thind is seen in his U.S. Army uniform at Camp Lewis during World War I in 1918. Thind, a Sikh American, was the first U.S. serviceman to be allowed for religious reasons to wear a turban as part of his military uniform. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind Spiritual Science Foundation)


From The Asian Reporter, V30, #06 (May 4, 2020), pages 10 & 11.

Five-part Asian Americans documentary traces epic story spanning 150 years

Asian Americans

May 11, 8:00pm to 10:00pm

May 12, 8:00pm to 11:00pm

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Asian Americans, a bold, new documentary from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), debuts nationally on May 11. The five-part series traces the epic story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, international relations, and cultural innovation.

The five episodes present a timely, clear-eyed look at the vital role Asian Americans have played in defining the U.S. as a nation. The first two one-hour segments of Asian Americans air Monday, May 11 from 8:00pm to 10:00pm on Oregon Public Broadcasting. The final three episodes are featured Tuesday, May 12 from 8:00pm to 11:00pm.

The five parts in the series are:

"Breaking Ground"

May 11, 8:00pm to 9:00pm

In an era of exclusion, new immigrants arrived in the U.S. from China, India, Japan, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Eventually barred by anti-Asian laws, the first show, "Breaking Ground," tells how the newcomers became America’s first "undocumented immigrants" even as they built railroads and dazzled on the silver screen. They also took the fight for equality to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"A Question of Loyalty"

May 11, 9:00pm to 10:00pm

An American-born generation straddles their country of birth and the homelands of their parents in "A Question of Loyalty." Those loyalties are tested during World War II, when families are imprisoned in detention camps and brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines.

"Good Americans"

May 12, 8:00pm to 9:00pm

"Good Americans" addresses the Cold War years, when Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a model minority and targeted as a perpetual foreigner. Bold ambition also emerges, as Asian Americans aspire for the first time to national political office and a coming culture-quake simmers beneath the surface.

"Generation Rising"

May 12, 9:00pm to 10:00pm

Episode 4, "Generation Rising," highlights a time of war and social tumult, when a young generation fighting for equality in the fields, on campuses, and in the culture, claim a new identity — Asian Americans. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, new immigrants and refugees expand the population and the definition of "Asian America."

"Breaking Through"

May 12, 10:00pm to 11:00pm

"Breaking Through" revisits the turn of the millennium, when the U.S. is tackling conflicts over immigration, race, economic disparity, and a shifting world order. A new generation of Asian Americans empowered by growing numbers, rising influence, and more diversity faces a reckoning of what it means to be an American in an increasingly divided society.

"Breaking Ground" and "A Question of Loyalty" replay May 13 from 1:00am to 3:00am. "Good Americans," "Generation Rising," and "Breaking Through" are shown again on May 14 from 1:00am to 4:00am. To learn more, visit <> or <>.

Digital town hall

In connection with the premiere of Asian Americans, a digital town hall was held April 30. The event explored how lessons from Asian-American history help us understand the experience of Asian Americans in the time of coronavirus, including how today’s discrimination directed at Asian Americans is rooted in a long history of discrimination and racism from the mid-19th century to the present.

Key people involved in the new documentary joined community leaders in hopes of avoiding repeated mistakes during a particularly challenging moment in American history. The conversation also addressed the impact of the pandemic on Asian-American businesses and communities.

Participants in the town hall included journalist and moderator Amna Nawaz, congresswoman Judy Chu, comedian Hari Kondabolu, writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, journalist and activist Helen Zia, actress and series narrator Tamlyn Tomita, series producer Renee Tajima-Peña, Asian American Journalists Association executive director Naomi Tacuyan Underwood, and philanthropist Darren Walker.

To view the discussion online, visit <>.

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