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history

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New multimedia web project tells lost history of Chicago’s Japanese American redress movement

Japanese American redress

A new interactive multimedia web project is shedding light on Chicago’s Japanese American redress movement, which developed in response to the injustices the community experienced during World War II.

Why this matters: Written and produced by Katherine Nagasawa, “Reckoning” is a multimedia experience that takes learners from the origins of the movement in 1970s Chicago to the signing of the Civil Liberties Act in 1988. It also highlights the continued efforts to preserve Japanese American history in the country today.

Yosemite restoration of 1917 Laundry Building showcases ‘almost erased’ history of Chinese workers

Yosemite building

A Chinese laundry facility built in 1917 has been restored and opened to the public to honor the “almost erased” history of the Chinese migrant workers who built vital roads in Yosemite National Park and supported its foundations since 1874.

Cultural significance: The building served a generation of Chinese workers who were employed at the historical Victorian-style Wawona Hotel, which has existed since 1856.

Why do Koreans eat seaweed soup on their birthdays? The answer ‘whale’ surprise you

miyeokguk tradition

It’s a feeling many Koreans might understand — walking into the kitchen on the morning of your birthday only to be hit by the smell of  briny ocean air. Brewing on the stove is a pot of miyeokguk, or seaweed (miyeok) soup (guk), made with the slippery brown seaweed one might recognize washed ashore at the beach. Regardless of how you feel about the taste, that same slippery goodness will often accompany your celebratory day. But where does this Korean tradition come from? 

Birthday miyeokguk stems from another Korean tradition of new mothers eating the soup to aid in postpartum recovery. For the first few months after childbirth, Korean women will often consume the dish for up to several meals per day for its nutritional benefits — and how that tradition originated is where it gets interesting. 

Meet Sohn Kee-chung, the Korean Olympian forced to represent the Japanese empire

Korean Olympian Sohn Kee-chung had to represent Japan

Sohn Kee-chung, an ethnic Korean marathon runner, is a poignant reminder of his country’s dark past. His record-breaking performance in the 1936 Berlin Games was widely celebrated, but there was one caveat to those looking on at his success from home — Sohn had no choice but to represent the Japanese empire. 

Born in 1912, just two years after Japan’s annexation of Korea, Sohn had only ever known living under colonial rule when he entered the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Still, a dedicated nationalist, he signed the roster for the Games with his Korean name along with a small drawing of the Korean flag. Officially, he was recognized as a member of the Japanese delegation with the romanized Japanese name “Son Kitei.” To this day, Sohn is listed on the official Olympics website with these attributes. 

Meet the war hero who invented banana ketchup

Banana ketchup

When indulging in hot dogs, french fries or Spam, you might reach for an ever-so-trustworthy bottle of tomato ketchup. But if you want to add a sweet, tangy kick to your food, try one of the Philippines’ most popular condiments: banana ketchup.

Despite what its name suggests, banana ketchup isn’t solely a mixture of banana pulp and crushed tomatoes. Its smooth texture, similar to that of tomato ketchup, can be deceiving. Yet the history of this beloved condiment — which typically consists of mashed banana, vinegar, sugar and spices — shines a light on the Philippines during a time of struggle.

Activist, Civil Rights Icon Grace Lee Boggs’ Historic Detroit Home to Become a Museum

The home of late activist couple James and Grace Lee Boggs on Detroit’s East Side is slated to become a community museum, the James and Grace Lee Boggs Foundation announced last week.

What to know: The museum is expected to open in 2023 or 2024. It will focus on the Boggs’ activism for civil rights, labor, ecology and justice movements, as well as their “influence on younger generations of activists, artists, educators, policymakers and humanitarians,” according to Detriot Metro Times.

Meet the Filipino American Civil Rights Icon Who Was Forgotten By History

Larry Itliong

Larry Itliong dreamed of becoming a lawyer when he immigrated to the United States as a teen in 1929. However, the circumstances of being a Filipino American worker at the time would eventually lead him to a higher calling.

Itliong started young in leading the fight for migrants’ labor rights during a tumultuous period in America, according to the Smithsonian. While a growing number of people recognize him now as a key figure of the Asian American movement, many are still unfamiliar with his story.

Before Brown v. Board of Education, These Chinese American Parents Fought for Desegregation in 1880s SF

Tape v. Hurley

A Chinese American family from San Francisco won a lawsuit in the 1880s after the eldest daughter was denied admittance to an all-white school, creating a vital civil rights case for Asian families in America. 

Barred from an education: Joseph and Mary Tape, who had both immigrated to the U.S. at a young age, were not allowed to enroll their 8-year-old daughter, Mamie, in Spring Valley Primary School in September 1884 because she was of Chinese descent.

When Hordes of Angry White Men Attacked South Asians for ‘Stealing Jobs’ in Washington

Bellingham

On Sept. 4, 1907, about 500 white men attacked the homes of South Asian workers in Bellingham, Washington, convinced the immigrants were taking over jobs at the local lumber mills.

Why this matters: The incident, known as Bellingham’s “anti-Hindu” riots, is a dark chapter in Asian American history in which law enforcement allegedly cooperated with racists under the guise of “protecting” immigrants.