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Antioch mayor apologizes to Chinese American Navy veteran for discrimination 82 years ago

  • Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe has officially apologized to Alfred Chan, a 98-year-old World War II Navy veteran who experienced discrimination at a restaurant in 1940.

  • Recalling the incident in a recent video, Chan says the restaurant staff refused to serve him and his two friends.

  • “That’s how bad it was in those days,” he says in the video. “But it’s improving. It’s improving, from then on. Very gradually.”

  • “I’m sorry that you had to experience that in my city,” Thorpe, a fellow Navy veteran, said in the official apology given at Chan’s senior home in San Leandro, California, on Nov. 18. “But today, we want to rectify that.”

  • Antioch became the first American city to formally apologize for the mistreatment of Chinese residents and for driving them out of the city between 1850 and 1870. Other cities soon followed, including San José, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.

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Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe has officially apologized to a Chinese American Navy veteran who experienced discrimination in the California city around 82 years ago.

Thorpe met with Alfred Chan, a 98-year-old World War II Navy veteran, in a senior home in San Leandro, California, on Nov. 18 to personally apologize on behalf of the city. Thorpe also presented Chan with a copy of the commemorative resolution.

Surrounded by his family, Chan, a former member of the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion, also known as Seabees, recounted the discrimination he and two other Asian Americans faced while visiting a restaurant in Antioch in the 1940s when he was 16 years old.

It’s a shame, all three of us served in the armed forces to help this country. We all got up and walked out,” Chan said. “I hope this will never be again. Our blood is red, we are no different. Please treat everyone, please treat everyone the same.”

In a video shared by Thorpe on Nov. 18, Chan recounts that on their way home from a trip to San Francisco, he and his friends stopped over at a restaurant in Antioch.

Recalling the incident, Chan says the staff at the restaurant refused to serve them, leaving the group to sit there until they decided to leave.

That’s how bad it was in those days,” he says in the video. “But it’s improving. It’s improving, from then on. Very gradually.”

I’m sorry that you had to experience that in my city,” Thorpe, a fellow Navy veteran, said. “But today we want to rectify that.”

Besides the restaurant incident, Chan also experienced other instances of discrimination and racism, such as when an angry Marine purportedly came up to him and said, “I’m gonna to kill me a Jap [sic],” the Chinese Historical Society of America reported in its tribute to Chan.

Antioch became the first American city to formally apologize for the mistreatment of Chinese residents and for driving them out of the city between 1850 and 1870. Other cities soon followed, including San José, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.

 

Featured Image via Mayor Lamar A. Thorpe

 

 

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