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ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN
HISTORICAL TIMELINE DETAILS (1910 to 1919)
Our victories, obstacles and leaders

Discover additional specific information on the links listed in "Red" or "Blue"


1910 
FIRST KOREAN "PICTURE BRIDE"
On November 28.
Sara Choe, married to Yi Nae-su, arrived in Hawaii. She was the first of 951 picture brides to come from Korea.

1910 
ASIAN AMERICAN IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS
Administrative measures used to restrict influx of Asian Indians into California. The United States Supreme Court extends the 1907 Naturalization Act to other Asia nationalities, making them ineligible for citizenship. Hawaiian-born Arthur Ozawa is admitted to the bar in Michigan and Hawaii, therefore, becoming the first Japanese American lawyer. John Raker, a racist Democratic congressman, and Anthony W. Caminetti, who became President Wilson's immigration commissioner, worked very hard to restrict Indian immigration. Both of these men pushed for and finally secured the passage of the "
Barred Zone Act" on February 4th 1917. This act effectively said that certain people from the barred zone, which included India, could not immigrate to the USA.

1910 
ANGEL ISLAND OPENS

Angel Island Immigration Station opened on January 22, 1910 to prevent escape by the immigrants, to isolate those with possible contagious diseases, and to keep the immigrants from communicating with the Chinese outside the station prior to admittance to the United States. Men and women were separated from one another, even husbands and wives, and not allowed to see or communicate with each other until they were admitted into the country or deported. Immigrants were locked into dormitories; a barbed wire fence prevented escapes. No visitors were allowed, and letters and packages were inspected.

This detention center remained in the use of the Immigration Service until 1940, even though claims were made the facilities were fire traps. (note: there are plans - Proposition 22 - to refurnish this historical landmark.) A health examination started the admission process. Later, long interrogations with as many as eighty-seven pages of testimony were taken. If one answered incorrectly, admission was denied. In order to assist in the process, study sheets were developed by the sponsoring family and given to the emigrant to study and memorize.

Fear and mistrust of the government was the outcome for all who survived the process and were admitted into the United States. The inconvenience and expense of this location as a detention/detainment center caused Angel Island Immigration Station to close. It is presently being used as a state park, and efforts are being made to make the remains of the station a California Historical Landmark and Park. (NOTE: Angel Island detainees often wrote of their experiences in free verse format on the walls of the station. Tours of the island are available to the general public.)

1911 
"LUE GIM GONG" ORANGE
One of
Lue Gim Gong's outstanding accomplishments happened when he cross- pollinated a "Hart's Late" with a "Mediterranean Sweet" and produced a new orange, the "Lue Gim Gong" which ripened in early fall and was more resistant to cold. It was propagated by Mr. George Tabor of the Glen St. Mary's Nursery. As a result the nursery received a Silver Wilder Medal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the first time such an award was made for citrus.

Lue also developed a grapefruit that grew singly on the branch rather than in a clump, an aromatic grapefruit that had little juice but smelled wonderful. He also propagated roses and other flowers and fruits. He claimed to have a cure for skin cancer. Lue's lasting importance lies in his skill as a citrus breeder, leading to his nickname, the Luther Burbank of Florida. He developed several important new crosses of oranges and grapefruit which revolutionized the industry. He also produced important new apple and raspberry varieties.

BACKGROUND: Born in 1859 to a family of Chinese farmers, Lue Gim Gong, was interested in America and the opportunities that lay over the Pacific Ocean. After his uncle returned from America when Lue was 12, Lue pleaded with his parents to let him go with his uncle to America. His parents agreed, giving him a bolt of silk to sell when he arrived. He lived in a heavily Chinese populated area in San Francisco until the age 16 when he moved to North Adams, Massachusetts to work at a shoe factory. At this factory, Lue met Fannie Burlingame, his Sunday School teacher. When she learned of his skill with plants, she asked him to live with the Burlingame's to tend their greenhouse. She converted him to Christianity, and helped him become an American citizen in 1877.

Lue had been advised to move to a warmer climate due to his recent contraction of tuberculosis. Due to his conversion, he was unable to return to China. Fannie recommended a relocation to DeLand, Florida, where she and her sister owned land. Lue agreed, and in 1885, he was working once again, this time in orange groves. Lue noticed that the oranges currently in use were very susceptible to cold weather. After experimenting, he finally developed an orange in 1888 that was both sweet and was hardy to cold weather. The "Lue Gim Gong Orange" is still grown in Florida today.

1911 
1ST ASIAN AMERICAN CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR AWARDEES
The first
Asian Americans to receive the United States' highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, were La Union native Jose Nisperos of the U.S. Army's elite Philippine Scouts and Navy Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad in 1911 and 1915, respectively.

1911 
PHILIP AHN
Birthdate of
Philip Ahn, the first Asian American actor to be inscribed in the Hollywood "Walk of Fame."

1912 
L.A.'S ROLE IN THE CHINESE REVOLUTION
In the heart of downtown L.A.'s
Chinatown is a bronze statue of China's revolutionary leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the "George Washington" of China. The statue is a storied landmark with a hidden Los Angeles-based history of Chinese insurgents training in secret in the City of Angels with the help of various prominent citizens of Los Angeles.
 
 
1914 Racist Sheet Music

The "Red Dragon" caper--one of the city's best-kept secrets for almost 40 years--was plotted in the old Chinatown, where Union Station now stands. The plot helped catapult Sun to power and promised members of a secret syndicate handsome returns to American financial backers from the new Chinese government, who put up millions of dollars to overthrow the dynastry of Empress Dowager Tz'u-his - the "Dragon Lady."

Homer Lea, a sickly, 88-pound hunchback Angeleno who had bad eyesight and obsession with military glory was neither Chinese nor a trained military man. Yet he became a chief military advisor to Sun. He was born in Denver in 1876 with a severe spinal curvature that made him look virtually neckless and condemned him to constant pain. Lea graduated from L.A. High School, attended Occidental College and then transferred to Stanford University. While at Sanford, he endeared himself to two Chinese foreign students, Allen Chung and Lou Hoy. Through Chung and Hoy, he acquired a working knowledge of Chinese and went on nocturnal visits to an underground Bay Area organization, the Chinese Freemasons.

With the help of Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, commander of the Allied forces in China during the Boxer Rebellion, Lea recruited aides such as ex-U.S. soldier Ansel E. O'Banion. Charles Beach Boothe, a pillar of South Pasadena society, was the checkbook of the syndicate that helped to raise as much as $9 million--in 1910 dollars.

By 1903, Lea opened military training schools for young Chinese in several American cities, among them the Western Military Academy in Chinatown, training revolutionary cadres to be smuggled illegally into China. Most cadets were American-born, but some were smuggled into the U.S. from China on Mexican fishing boats. O'Banion signed an oath of allegiance to the secret society Po Wong Wui, the "Protect Emperor Society," at a banquet in Chinatown.

Prominent businessmen such as Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and Elihu Root, Teddy Roosevelt's Nobel Peace Prize-winning secretary of state, were only too glad to lend their names and give their support so young Chinese men could get a good education. They were not told about the military mission of the training nor about the guns and bayonets kept in a locked back room. Secrecy was the key to the planned rebellion because the empress had spies everywhere, including Los Angeles.

On Sept. 30, 1905, shortly after Sun was smuggled into San Francisco on a potato boat, he attended a lavish banquet in his honor in Los Angeles' Chinatown, where two assassins lay in wait, long knives at the ready. But O'Banion foiled their plan, hitting their heads with the butt of his gun. Sun's revolution crested on Oct. 10, 1911, and broke the back of a 300-year-old dynasty. Lea suffered a paralyzing stroke and died two weeks before his 36th birthday in May 1912.

1912 
CHINESE SLAVE GIRL PLOT
With the capture late Monday night of Leong Moon, interpreter on the Japanese liner Nippon Maru, and four chinese girls, the immigration authorities are confronted with one of the
most brazen attempts at smuggling and bribery they have ever had to deal with. From admissions made by the girls the Federal investigators believe they were able to expose a ring for the smuggling of Chinese woman and coolies into this country as extensive as the opium conspiracies with which the customs authorities have been confronted recently. Promises of rich husbands and an easy life here are still sealing the lips of the girls, in the opinion of those in charge of the investigation. The very assurance with which Leong Moon walked ashore from the Nippon [Maru] accompanied by the Chinese girls, who were disguised as men, leads the officials to believe that "the way had been greased," and that the only reason why the "Celestial slaves" are not now occupying dens in Chinatown is because the arrangement of the smugglers miscarried.

1912 
DUKE KAHANAMOKU: 1ST ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN OLYMPIAN

Duke Kahanamoku was born August 24, 1890 in downtown Honolulu. Just before turning 22, he won his first Olympic gold medal and went on to represent the United States in the Olympics for the next 20 years. In 1912, Duke won his first Olympic gold medal and set a world record in the 100-meter free-style and won a silver medal as a participant in the 200-meter relay in Stockholm. He won his second and third gold medals in 1920 during the Antwerp Olympics, again breaking his world record in the 100-meter free-style and setting a world record on the free-style relay team. In the 1924 Paris Olympics, he won a silver medal for the 100-meter free-style. Then in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, he was awarded a bronze medal as an alternate on the water polo team. Duke won medals, trophies and worldwide fame as a swimmer, but also went on to become a longboard surfing legend. Museums and memorials in Australia, California, Florida, New York and Hawaii pay tribute to his worldwide influence on surfing.

1912 
NEISEI EDUCATION
Sikhs build gurdwara in Stockton and establish Khalsa Diwan. Japanese in California hold statewide conference on Nisei education.  

1912
TUN VS. EDSELL
Tun v Edsell: American-born Tang Tun is refused re-entry by the
Supreme Court,

1912 
CALIFORNIA LAND OWNED BY JAPANESE AMERICANS
Japanese Americans owned
12,726 acres of farmland in California

1913 
ASIAN AMERICANS UNABLE TO BUY OR LEASE LAND
California passes alien land law prohibiting "aliens ineligible to citizenship" from
buying land or leasing it for longer than three years. Sikhs in Washington and Oregon establish Hindustani Association. Asian Indians in California found the revolutionary Ghadar Party and start publishing a newspaper. Pablo Manlapit forms Filipino Unemployed Association in Hawaii. Japanese form Northwest Japanese Association of America in Seattle. Korean farmworkers are driven out of Hemet, California.

1913 
YAMATO ICHIHASHI - STANFORD'S 1ST NON-WHITE PROFESSOR
Yamato Ichihashi was
Stanford's first non-white professor. He started teaching here right after he completed his doctoral work in 1913 at Harvard, and he remained here from 1913 until he died in 1962. He was an intellectual pioneer because of his expertise in Japanese history and Pacific relations that helped Stanford University established as a center for East Asian studies and for Pacific studies. Ichihashi came to the United States as an ambitious student in 1894 and attended high school in San Francisco and enrolled at Stanford Univrsity in 1902.

His qualifications for being a Stanford University professor included being completely fluent in English, fluent in Japanese and trained in the classical education that was required of college-bound students at the time that required knowledge of the subjects of Greek, classical literature and economics. Ichihashi received his degree in economics and got his Ph.D. in political economy.

In late March, 1942, and he and other Japanese Americans at Stanford University were taken from Palo Alto to Tule Lake to be interned. Ichihashi kept a daily diary to record his experiences with the intention with the plan to write a book about his experiences and the internment experience overall. Ichihashi was interned from 1942 until the spring of 1945. His return to Stanford University was very difficult. He died in 1962.

1913 (November 17) 
LUNG YEP - 1ST CHINESE POLICEMAN (LAPD)
Los Angeles Police Chief Charles Sebastian placed a badge on Chinese immigrant
Lung Yep, who "stepped from the comparative obscurity of a clerkship in Sing Fat's store into the authority of a star and a club," The Times reported. He became, the newspaper said, "the first Chinese ever to be so invested in the United States or in the entire Occident, so far as the police records of the continent show." His appointment followed an investigation of conditions in Chinatown. "After a talk with the men now patrolling that picturesque district, Chief Sebastian agreed with the men that a native policeman is needed, one who speaks the Chinese language," The Times said.
Max and Itano Hosoda ran the City Day Cleaning and Hand Laundry in Emmett, Idaho, from 1914 to 1920.

1914 
SESSUE HAYAKAWA - 1ST ASIAN STARRING IN HOLLYWOOD FILM
August, 1914: The first Asian Hollywood star
Sessue Hayakawa became the first Asian to star in a Hollywood film with the release of The Typhoon. Hayakawa was cast in the film when producer Thomas Ince became impressed by Hayakawa's unusually subtle and naturalistic acting style. He paid $500 for Hayakawa's services in that film, a handsome price for an unknown actor.

Hayakawa had been a nobleman's son who had come to the U.S. initially in 1909 to study at the University of Chicago where he played on the football team. He returned to Japan and founded a touring troupe of entertainers. Returning to the U.S. in 1913, he had been acting in stage productions with a Japanese American theater group in Little Tokyo when discovered by Ince.

Impressing American audience with his looks and unique acting style, Sessue Hayakawa quickly became a star. He starred in many successful films but they were mostly in villain or anti-hero roles. Frustrated by Hollywood's unwillingness to cast him in leading-man roles, in 1918 Hayakawa borrowed $1 million from a former University of Chicago classmate and founded Hayworth Films. Over the next three years he made 23 films and earned $2 million a year ? a princely amount in those days. He later moved to Europe to escape American racial prejudices and enjoyed considerable success there. Near the end of his career, he was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a vicious POW camp commandant in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Click HERE to read more about his films.

1914
CANADA STOPS ASIAN INDIAN IMMIGRATION
Aspiring Asian Indian immigrants who had chartered a ship to come to Canada by continuous journey are denied landing in Vancouver.

1915
JAPANESE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Japanese form Central Japanese Association of Southern California and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce.

1915
ASIAN IMMIGRANTS BARRED FROM ANY PROFITS FROM SEAFOOD
Passage of Washington state law barring Asian immigrants from taking "for sale or profit any salmon or other food or shellfish

1916 
WAH MING CHANG IS BORN

In 1956, Chang and some colleagues began a new company called Project Unlimited, which turned out some of the work Chang is most famous for. Their first project were the effects for the 1958 Tom Thumb. Chang's colleagues went on to win an Oscar for their work in The Time Machine, an Oscar that should have gone to Chang too, but his name was not credited by the Academy. Other projects that Chang worked on were creating the Pillsbury Doughboy, effects and costumes for the Planet of the Apes, along with major props and costumes for The Outer Limits television series. After Project Unlimited folded, he created several props and costumes for the Star Trek series, including the federation communicator, the tricorder, the phaser gun and the Salt Creature. Chang also created masks for The King and I and the massive headdress worn by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.

1916 

TORAICHI KONO HIRED BY CHARLES CHAPLIN
In 1916, Toraichi Kono entered Charles Chaplin's life when he was recruiting for a secretary after having lived off and on in California for more than twelve years. He saw an article in a newspaper providing a job as a chauffeur that ended up to be with Chaplin. It has been reported that he was Chaplin's driver, personal secretary, a handy man, closest confidante, his caretaker and - according to most accounts, the person that Chaplin trusted more than anyone else. Chaplin hired Kono - allegedly - because the cane, one of the trademarks of the Little Tramp character Chaplin played, was made in Japan. There have been reports that Kono had such control over Chaplin's domestic arrangements that at one point in the mid-'20s, all 17 male workers at the actor's estate were Japanese. It has been reported that there has been dozens of letters intended for Chaplin but addressed to Kono as evidence that was the man you had to go through to get to the star.

Travia
person that Chaplin trusted more than anyone else.
born in 1888 to a wealthy family in Hirohima
Not wanting to become a farmer or gardener like many of the other Japanese immigrants, Kono learned to drive and became Charlie Chaplin's chauffeur.
After leaving Chaplin, Kono opened up a law office in Little Tokyo at Los Angeles and was known among the neighbors just as a lawyer Kono, not by the long-term relationship with a famous man.
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Kono was rearrested the same day
He was born in 1888 to a wealthy family in Hirohima and preferred associating with geishas, gambling and a rebellious spirit. He was sent to live with family members in Seattle for a year in the hopes that he would learn discipline and obedience, upon his return - it was observed that the efforts were unsuccessful. Shorty thereafter, he moved/ran away to the US at the age of 17 or 18 (1906) with the intentions to become a lawyer. Unlike many Japanese who arrived in America fleeing poverty, Kono was a party guy running from the restraints of an arranged marriage and a wealthy but demanding father - even though he was a man of the Japanese Meiji period with strict moral disciplines. He was a pilot whose first wife wouldn't let him fly, and he worked in a shop and as a houseboy before meeting Chaplin at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where the actor then lived.

He was a Japanese immigrant who, during a time where most Asians were related to second-class citizenship and poorly treated, was closely involved with one of the world's first international motion picture stars. One has to be always aware that the rights and privileges we take for granted can be usurped and taken away. Kono's story is relevant when viewed in the light of today's reaction to security and threats from terrorists. There are more people and institutions today willing to be someone's advocate as opposed to over 60 years ago when public and government sentiment overwhelmed everything.

Kono's First Impressioni of Chaplin
"I found a nice-looking, black-haired young chap in bed, eating his breakfast. When Mr. Harrington told him what I wanted, Charlie stopped chewing long enough to ask me if I could drive a car. I assured him I could. `Well, I can't,' he said and grinned. `You're smart.' He then turned to Mr. Harrington and said, "take him out for a try,' and went on eating. We drove around Los Angeles, which wasn't very crowded, for a few minutes, and Mr. Harrington informed me I was hired."

Why Chaplin decided to hire Kono on the spot is unknown but film historian/Chaplin expert Stan Taffel has a theory. Taffel believes that since Chaplin was an immigrant (from England) who felt he owed his success to America, he may have felt a connection to Kono as a fellow immigrant, also eager to embrace the American Dream.

Whatever the reason, Kono was hired for thirty dollars a week (which was much more than most Asian immigrants were making at the time) and for the next eighteen years, Kono would be at Chaplin's side.

Kono was born to a wealthy family in Hiroshima and quickly turned into an "undutiful" son, preferring to hang out with geishas, gambling and developing a rebellious spirit that members of upper class Japanese society frowned upon. He was sent to live with family in Seattle for a year in hopes that he would learn discipline and obedience, but when he returned to Japan, not much had changed. Shortly thereafter, Kono ran away from home and managed to both con his way onto a ship bound for America and convince U.S. immigration officials to let him into the country.

By all accounts, Kono was a cunning and resourceful individual. Once in the United States, he hoped to be an aviator, but by now he was married and had a son. His wife forbade him from flying. Not wanting to become a farmer or gardener like many of the other Japanese immigrants, Kono learned to drive and became Charlie Chaplin's chauffeur.

After 18 years - Kono and Chaplin decided to go their separate ways after some disputes that involved Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's 3rd wife. Afterwards, Chaplin arranged for him to get work in the movie business, but Kono never found a way to stay there. He opened up a law office in Little Tokyo at Los Angeles and was known among the neighbors just as a lawyer Kono, not by the long-term relationship with a famous man.

Kono did take up Chaplin's offer to become the Japan representative - chief manager - of United Artists Japan (which Chaplin co-owned) but quit after a year. He entered a social world that included Japanese naval spies who were scouting for information on U.S. Navy battleships. The FBI arrested Kono on espionage charges, though the allegations were dropped in favor of attempts to deport him. Kono fought further attempts to deport him after the war but by the 1950s had returned to his birthplace of Hiroshima.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Kono was rearrested the same day. The FBI thought Kono became a Japanese spy after he left Chaplin's employ in the mid-1930s. In the run-up to Pearl Harbor, with Japanese-American tensions rising, they caught Kono meeting with Japanese naval officers looking for information about U.S. naval deployments. He was arrested, released and then quickly interned after the attack. He spent the war in internment camp at Kooskia Idaho, where he ran the projector on movie nights, just as he had done for the screenings at the Chaplin mansion. He was not released until 1948.

Kono was fond of Chaplin, while not so with Chaplin's second very young wife Rita Grey, who was an avid spender of money and enjoyed parties with marine officers. Kono tried to support Chaplin in many ways. When Chaplin was going through the divorce with his first wife Mildred Harris, his project "Kid" which was in the process of being edited, was in danger of being held down by the court as a property. Both ended up fleeing, Kono driving the car with $60 and Chaplin himself with $70 in his pocket respectively all the way down to Salt Lake in Utah. Kono also took care of private matters. He was supposed to have camouflaged the proceedings with Rita Grey and Chaplin, to support a smooth process for their wedding.

He passed away in Hiroshima in 1971.

Ince/Hearst Situation
In the "Oneida Incident" - Toraichi Kono is widely thought to know the truth (he was the chief source of information for Gerith von Ulm's biography on Chaplin). He was supposedly on the dock in San Diego waiting to pick up Chaplin (despite Chaplin's commentary to the contrary - described in his autobiography), who was scheduled to meet United Artists executives the next day. He was present when Ince was brought ashore when he saw Ince bleeding from a bullet wound to the head from William Randolph Hearst. One story behind the shooting is that he had mistaken Ince for Chaplin in the dark, whom he thought have had many romantic trysts with Marion Davis (Hearst's mistress). It has been noted that Marion had "supposedly" written nave and highly indiscreet love letters that was sent to Chaplin through Kondo - as told in von Ulm's book. Within her book, this "person" was identified as"Maisie" in her book for a wide variety of reasons. One such letter, Kono recalled, bore the imprint of her lipstick-smeared mouth - the lover's come for "sealed with a kiss."). This incident became part of Hollywood legend.

In time, Kono became Chaplin's valet and confidante. Kono was the man you went to see if you needed something from Charlie Chaplin. It didn't matter if you were the president or a fellow Hollywood celebrity, you had to pay respects to Kono if you wanted to get to Chaplin. Even Chaplin's own family had to make arrangements through Kono if they wanted an audience with Charlie. In this regard, Kono had a position of power and direct access to a world that was off-limits to most Asians living in America at the time.

A little known "spy story"" was recently unocovered. Arrested by FBI men were two dapper little Japanese and Al Blake. U.S. citizen. Al turned out to be no spy but a hero: he had pulled off an amateur job of counter-espionage that would have made a professional spy turn green with envy.

A yeoman in the U.S. Navy during World War I, 50-year-old Al Blake had a job as "Keeno, King of the Robots" in a Los Angeles store window. Standing beside a male dummy, he defied spectators to make him laugh or to tell which figure was human. Some four months ago a Japanese named Toraichi Kono ran into Al Blake. Well-known in Hollywood. Kono was once Charlie Chaplin's valet and private secretary, now has a small business.

Kono asked Al Blake if he would get in touch with yeomen aboard the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, try to worm some Navy secrets out of them. Blake agreed. Then he went to see Naval Intelligence officers, reported his conversation with Kono. They told him to go ahead, work with the Japanese, see what he could unearth.

Enter, at this point, a Japanese bigshot: Itaru Tatibana, 39, a lieutenant commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Registered on alien lists as a language student at the University of Southern California, Tatibana put up the money to pay for Al Blake's snooping. Altogether, Al got several thousand dollars from the Japanese, turned it all over to U.S. officials. He made two trips to Hawaii. The Navy handed him some obsolete data, reports of firing practice on the U.S.S. Phoenix last February, several ancient code books. These Al passed on to his employers.

One afternoon last fortnight Navy Intelligence decided its case was complete. FBI men went out. picked up the suspects separately. In Tatibana's rooms they found a truckload of assorted information about the U.S. Navy. Arrested on a charge of "conspiracy to obtain national defense information . . . for . . . a foreign power," Commander Tatibana was promptly sprung when Japanese Consul Kenji Nakauchi posted $50,000 bail. Kono could not raise his $25,000 bail, stayed in jail.

Navy men said they had been watching the two Japanese almost a year, would hale them before a Federal grand jury this week on a charge of espionage (maximum peacetime penalty: 20 years). As for Al Blake. "King of the Robots," he was congratulated by the Navy for successfully keeping a straight face.

1916 
MINORU YASUI
Minoru Yasui, University of Oregon's first Asian Pacific American law school graduate was born on October 19, 1916. He was the third son of Masuo and Shidzuyo Yasui and was born in Hood River, Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1937 with Phi Beta Kappa honors and received his law degree with honors from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1939.

On February 19,1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Approximately one month later, Lt. General John L. DeWitt, Military Commander of the Western Defense Command, issued Public Proclamation No. 3.2. This order imposed travel restrictions and a curfew for German, Italian, and Japanese nationals. However, the Proclamation applied to American citizens of Japanese descent as well, but not American citizens of German or Italian ancestry. Min viewed this order as unlawful discrimination based on racial grounds and a dear violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Minoru volunteered himself to become the test case to challenge these restrictions. On March 28,1942, Min deliberately violated Public Proclamation No. 3. Min's trial began on June 12,1942, before Judge James Alger Fee in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The trial lasted only one day. Judge Fee ruled that the curfew order as applied to American citizens, even those of Japanese ancestry, was unconstitutional. However, he then went on to find that Minoru Yasui was not a United States citizen. Judge Fee concluded that Min's actions, particularly his work for the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, effectively resulted in a renunciation by Min of his U.S. citizenship. As an "alien" of Japanese ancestry, Min had disobeyed a lawful regulation governing enemy aliens and was guilty as charged.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified Min's appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the findings of Judge Fee.3 The Court found that the lower court erred in its finding that Minoru Yasui had lost his United States citizenship. It also found that the lower court erred in ruling the curfew order unconstitutional as applied to United States citizens. Consistent with its analysis, the Court then upheld the lower court's conviction of Min and the fine of $5,000, but freed him from further incarcerations.

He sat for the Colorado bar examination in 1945. Although he received the highest scores among the group of candidates that sat for the bar examination that year, Min was denied admission to the Colorado bar because of his criminal conviction. Represented by Samuel L. Menin of the American Civil Liberties Union, Min appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court. Min was admitted to practice law in Colorado in January 1946.

Min vehemently believed that the U.S. government needed to acknowledge the wrong that had been committed against the Japanese-American community and pay reparations for the economic losses suffered by those forcibly relocated. For several years, he served as Chairman of the National JACL Redress Committee. However, Min died on November 12,1986, before seeing the culmination of his hard work by the enactment of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988,9 providing redress, reparation, and an official apology from the government to the thousands of Japanese Americans incarcerated or relocated under duress during World War II.

1917
LAW RESTRICTS IMMIGRATION
All Asian immigrants except for Japanese and Filipinos banned by order of Congress.

xxxxx x x xxxxx
 
Song Lead Sheet of a 1919 Racist Song
 

1917 
ALIEN LAND LAW RESTRICTS IMMIGRATION
Arizona passes an Alien Land Law. 1917
Immigration Law defines a geographic "barred zone" (including India) from which no immigrants can come. Syngman Rhee founds the Korean Christian Church in Hawaii. These laws were originally aimed at the Japanese, but later amended in 1923 and 1927 to cover all Asians. Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana had laws similar to this. Chinese, as aliens, were ineligible for citizenship and were denied the right to buy or own land. These laws were declared unconstitutional in 1947. All Asian immigrants except for Japanese and Filipinos banned by order of Congress. 1917 Immigration Act (aka "Barred Zone" Act) prohibited Indian (South Asian) laborers from entering the United States on the basis that India and all of Asia (except Japan and the Philippines) existed in the "barred zone."

1917 
I.M. PEI IS BORN

Ieoh Ming Pei, whose name means, "to inscribe brightly," is one of the preeminent architects of the twentieth century. Pei's modernist works illustrate his affinity for geometric shapes, silhouettes, and striking contrasts that has impacted people
across the world.

I.M. Pei I.M. Pei was born in Canton, (now Guangzou) China in 1917. He later lived in Shanghai and Hong Kong, before leaving for the United States in 1934 to study architecture. He received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940. He was awarded the Alpha Rho Chi Medal, the MIT Traveling Fellowship, and the American Institute of Architecture's Gold medal. As the result of Japan's invasion of China in 1939, Pei remained in the United States.

Pei graduated Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1946, then spent seven years, beginning in 1948, as director of the architectural division at the firm of Webb & Knapp. In 1954, that Pei became a U.S. citizen.

In 1955 Pei established his own architecture firm. His work on the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado established his firm's reputation. Pei was selected by Jackie Kennedy to design and build the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1964, Pei began working on the JFK Library and achieved a position of prominence among architects around the world.

In 1968, Pei initiated work on the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C. The East Wing proved to be the first of many internationally renowned buildings by Pei. In 1993, the completion of Pei's glass pyramid at the Louvre created a new historic landmark for Paris. Pei described it as, "the greatest challenge and greatest accomplishment of my career." Pei has earned countless awards and distinctions and the enduring respect of many nations. I.M. Pei's Family - In its race to build modern cities, China has welcomed back its most illustrious native son, famous architect I. M. Pei. But his vision of the future is to look to the past to preserve the subtle characteristics of Chinese architecture.

I.M. Pei has designed nearly 50 projects in the United States and abroad. Over half of these projects have won major awards. Pei has been awarded the highest honors from nations the world over. In 1986, at the one hundredth anniversary of the Statute of Liberty President Ronald Reagan designated Pei as one of twelve naturalized American citizens to receive the Medal of Liberty, for his outstanding service as an architect. Pei used the $100,000 prize from the Pritzker award that he won in 1983 to establish a scholarship fund for Chinese architecture students to study in the United States, with the stipulation that the students return to work China to work in architecture. Additionally, Pei has worked for and supported the establishment of a greater democracy in China.

Some of Pei's most famous buildings:

  • Mesa National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado (1961-1967).
  • Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, (1968-1973)
  • National Gallery of Art, East Building, Washington DC (1968-1970)
  • John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts, (1964-1979)
  • Fragrant Hill Hotel, Beijing, China (1979-1982)
  • Dallas Municipal Administration Building, Dallas, Texas (1965-1978)
  • Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas
  • Bank of China, Hong Kong, China (1982-1990)
  • Grand Louvre, Paris France, La Pyramide Paris, France (1980-1993)
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, (1986-1995)

Additional awards I.M. Pei has won:

  • Decorated by the French Government as a Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters
  • Japan Art Association's Praemium Imperiale for lifetime achievement in architecture
  • Medal of Freedom by President George Bush for his contributions to world peace and service to the U.S. government
  • 1983 Pritzker Architecture Award
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial for Architecture, 1976.
  • Elected to the American Academy, 1975.
  • American Institute of Architect's Gold Medal the highest architectural honor in the United States, 1979.
  • Medal of French Legion of Honor, 1987.
  • National Arts Club Gold Medal of Honor, 1976.
  • Grande Medaille d'Or from the French Academie d'Architecture, 1982.

1917 
JACK SOO (GORO SUZUKI) IS BORN
Jack Soo was born on October 28, 1917 (died January 11, 1979), as Goro Suzuki. Although his parents (George Suzuki/tailor & Haruko Shiozawaa Suzuki/dressmaker) lived in Oakland’s tough west side (protected by the muscle boys because he was a funny kid), they decided to give birth to their son in Japan, and Goro Suzuki was born on the ship before it reached Japan. He taught himself English by reading books, attended Oakland Technical High School (along with playing on their varsity baseball team ) and worked as a farm laborer before deciding to make a highly unusual choice for a second-generation American born Japanese be coming an entertainer after winning an oratorical contest sponsored by the Japanese American Citizen League and hearing the applause at the age of 14. While attending/graduating from UC Berkeley, he was already performing in nightclubs in San Francisco. He was famously billed in San Francisco's Chinatown as "China's funniest comedian."

Internment Camp
In 1941, Suzuki, along with his family, was interned at the Tanforan Assembly Center in South San Francisco and then at Topaz Relocation Center, Utah, along with thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. While interned, he quickly earned a reputation as a popular "camp" entertainer among his fellow internees by singing and performing at events. He later received authorization from the U.S. government to leave the internment camps and later worked in military intelligence in Cleveland, Ohio. Fellow internees recalled him as a "camp favorite" entertainer, singing at dances and numerous events.

Hollywood
After the war, Suzuki moonlighted as an emcee and performer in nightclubs and venues throughout the Midwest and Eastern States while working as a butcher. He got his first big break when he teamed up with Joey Bishop, playing Bishop's straight man in 1949 for a year and a half, and the duo played Chez Paris in Chicago. During his career, he also performed in numerous programs such as the Jack Benny Show, Return from Witch Mountain, Busting Loose, Police Woman, M*A*S*H, Ironside, The Odd Couple, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Hawaii Five-O, The Monk, The Red Skelton Show, Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed, Family Feud, Dinah, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Toast of the Town (aka "The Ed Sullivan Show) and others.

Flower Drum Song
After World War II, returned to the West Coast, and was a popular act at Andy Wong's Sky Room and Charlie Low's Forbidden City in San Francisco, which featured all Chinese performers. It was at the Forbidden City that Soo was "discovered" by Gene Kelly, who offered Soo the role of nightclub announcer Frankie Wing in the Rogers and Hammerstein's Broadway production of The Flower Drum Song in 1958 on the condition that he change his name to something Chinese, as "Flower Drum Song" tells a story set in San Francisco's Chinatown – also to address fears of retaliation during those times. Soo was hired and moved to New York City. After earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Frankie Wing, Soo was elevated to the leading role of the nightclub owner and romantic lead Sammy Fong, and was chosen to play the same role in the film version of the musical, which was released in 1961.

The play and film made history, as the first mainstream musical to feature an all Asian-American cast. Soo sang his own songs and won accolades for his performances in both the play and the film. Despite a lack of roles for Asian Americans, he settled in Hollywood while finding work in managed to find work in films such as Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963), the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), The Oscar (1968) and The Green Berets (1968) with John Wayne. Soo was also cast as a regular in the series Valentine's Day, as the chauffeur-gambler Rockwell Sin, co-starring with Tony Franciosa, which aired for one season in 1964. He also appeared in many television shows, including Hawaii Five-O (1970), The Odd Couple (1972), Ironside (1974), MASH (1972,1975) and Police Woman (1975).

The “Asian Bing Crosby” / Motown Records
He began his career as a singer and was often referred to as the "Asian Bing Crosby" (as the result of his enjoyment of mimicking Bing Crosby and other singers of the day ) – along with being one of the first non-African American artists signed to Motown records in 1965, and was the first male artist to record the classic, "For Once In My Life." He was also one of the first Asian American stand-up comics to tour widely throughout the United States, including the Midwestern nightclub circuit, New York and Las Vegas.

Interracial Marriage to Jan Zdelar
In 1945, Jack Soo married a pretty Yugoslavian model, Jan Zdelar, who he met in New York. They had three children: Jayne, James and Richard, and two grandchildren. Jack Soo's brother, Michio "Mike" Suzuki, was the director of policy at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington, D.C.

Jack Soo's Last Scene

Barney Miller
Soo was cast (through his friendship with Danny Arnold – a fellow comic from his days of performing in Ohio in the late 1940s) in his most memorable role in 1975 on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller as the laid-back, but very wry, Detective Nick Yemana, who was also responsible for making the dreadful coffee the entire precinct had the misfortune to drink every day. His last appearance on Barney Miller was in the episode entitled "The Vandal", which aired on November 9, 1978. After dying of esophageal cancer at the height of his popularity, the entire cast of Barney Miller stepped out of character in a tribute to Jack in an episode that aired in May of 1979. It was said that his last words to his co-star Hal Linden, who played Barney Miller in the series, as Soo was being wheeled into the operating room before his death were "It must have been the coffee," referencing a running joke by his character from Barney Miller of having the reputation for making horrible coffee. At the end of the tribute, Soo's cast members raised their coffee cups in a final toast to his memory. Because his character (and Soo himself) was so beloved, a special retrospective episode was made, showing clips of his best moments: it aired at the end of the
season.

Jeff Adachi's Documentary
His documentary “You Don’t Know Jack” tells the fascinating story of a pioneering American entertainer Jack Soo, an Oakland native who became the first Asian American to be cast in the lead role in a regular television series Valentine's Day (1963), and later starred in the popular comedy show Barney Miller (1975-1978). The documentary came as the result of his research for his earlier documentary called "The Slanted Screen."

The film featured rare footage and interviews with Soo's co-stars and friends, including actors George Takei, Nancy Kwan and Max Gail, comedians Steve Landesberg and Gary Austin, and producer Hal Kanter, the film traces Jack's early beginnings as a nightclub singer and comedian, to his breakthrough role as Sammy Fong in Rogers and Hammerstein's Broadway play and film version of The Flower Drum Song.

Diversity and Racism
In most of his roles in television, in movies, and on stage, Jack portrayed leaders or characters "breaking out" of the Asian stereotypes held at the time. Yemana was the first regular adult character on US prime-time television written for an American of Japanese descent, a role long-sought by Jack. He was a man who would never take demeaning “Oriental” parts and often spoke out against negative ethnic portrayals. Soo lived to see a 180 degrees change in attitude toward Japanese Americans.

Soo injected his life experience into what he called "verbal ethnicity": taking a perception about a person, in Soo's case, his Japanese-American ancestry, and standing it on its head. (Lewis Beale) Soo never shied away from his ethnicity and instead used it as fuel for his comedy. One of his most famous scenes in Barney Miller illustrates this technique. As Soo described it: "a fella says to me, `You shouldn't squint so.' I say, "I'm not squinting.' And, not moving a muscle, then I add, `This is a squint!'

In an interview with TV Guide in 1977, Soo said that he refused roles of houseboys and gardeners because he didn't want to portray Asians only in that way. As Soo explained, "I'm not putting down domestics. If it hadn't been for our first-generation Japanese Americans, who were houseboys and gardeners, there could never have been the second-generation doctors, architects --- and actors. I just didn't want to play domestics on a stage."

Soo also experienced overt racism and discrimination as one of the few Japanese American entertainers of the post-WWII era. Early in this career, the William Morris Agency teamed Soo with a Caucasian comic who later became a "big name" in the business. As the duo began performing, however, the agency surmised that teaming a Caucasian and Japanese American comic might hurt the Caucasian comic's burgeoning career. "Morris cut me loose without a word," Soo later said, recalling the incident. "Pretty raunchy of them."

It is hoped that that many Asian Americans will resonate with Jack Soo's story while embracing his attitude of being singular with his versatility, his history and his resolution from the get-go, that he was not going to kowtow to any Hollywood stereotyping of Asian characters. "He would not play ethnic stereotypes," says Adachi. He rejected subservient roles and wound up playing hip characters on various TV shows, including Valentine's Day with Tony Franciosa, and, of course, Barney Miller. When many “Asian American” working executives in Hollywood don’t see the “business model” of being successful doing Asian American stories or perspectives (without accents or ethnic stereotypes) – when and who will be the visionary leaders within our communities that will follow the lead of other ethnic communities (Jewish, Black, Hispanic, Catholic, Irish, etc.) to bring their stories to the general public?

PERCEPTIONS OF OUR PAST AND FUTURE Mercury News' Marian Liu reported that "For Asian-Americans, the move toward entertainment careers has been a recent one, stretching the past 40 years, starting with such stereotypical films as the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Flower Drum Song." (Editor's Note: This "stereotypical film" was based on the first Chinese American novel to be published by an established publishing house, the first Chinese American novel to be on the best-seller list, the first Broadway/major movie studio production to feature, star and about Asian Americans, the female stars of the Broadway show -- Pat Suzuki and Miyoshi Umeki -- became the first Asian Americans to be on the cover of Time and Newsweek and the film that launched the careers of Miyoshi Umeki, Jack Soo, James Shigeta, and Nancy Kwan.)  
 
EARLY ENTERTAINMENT PIONEERS
  Anna May Wong    Philip Ahn   Keye Luke in his earlier days   Sessue Hayakawa Picture

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sadly, many people (along with many within the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities) have forgotten the achievements and victories of past entertainment pioneers in the 1920's (some of the pioneers are listed on the "left") and Jack Soo's earlier achievements - along with the various non-stereotypical milestones seen in the movie "Flower Drum Song."

 
   

1917 
ASIAN AMERICANS IN WWI
All-Japanese Company D, 1st Hawiian Regiment of Infantry, is formed in Hawai'i to serve in World War I. There were, also, Chinese Americans also served in WWI. About 500 Chinese served as logistic support for General Pershing when he chased after Mexican Pancho De Villa in 1916. These Chinese return to the USA with Pershing (because Panch De Villa put a price their heads for helping General Pershing). General Pershing attempted to give them USA citizenship as a reward but Congress denied that. General Pershing was able to procure Permenant Resident status for these Chinese soldiers at a later date.

Prior to and during WWI, the US Navy allowed Filipino enlistees to serve under a range of military occupational rating such as petty officer, band master, musician, coxswains' mates, seamen, machinist, fireman, water tender, commissionary stewards, officer's stewards, and mess attendents.

Testifying in Congress on April 11, 1930, on a bill sponsored by Rep. Richard Welch (Calif.) that would exclude Filipinos from entering the U.S., Brig. General F. Lee J. Parker, chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, reminded the members of the House committee on immigration that more than 25,000 Filipinos in World War I, served in the U.S. armed forces giving evidence of their wholehearted loyalty.

After WWI, the United States Navy issued new rulings restricting filipinos, even those with college education, to the rating of officer stewards and mess attendent. These military occupational discrimination practices were stopped in the 1970's when there was a senatorial investigation of the use of stewards in the military due to pressure from the civil rights movement.

1918 
ASIAN SERVICEMEN CAN BE NATURALIZED CITIZENS
Servicemen of Asian ancestry who had served in World War I receive right of naturalization. Prior to and during WWI, the US Navy allowed Filipino enlistees to serve under a range of military occupational rating such as petty officer, band master, musician, coxswains' mates, seamen, machinist, fireman, water tender, commissionary stewards, officer's stewards, and mess attendents. After WWI, the United States Navy issued new rulings restricting filipinos, even those with college education, to the rating of officer stewards and mess attendent. These military occupational discrimination practices were stopped in the 1970's when there was a senatorial investigation of the use of stewards in the military due to pressure from the civil rights movement. During WWI (1917-1918) 2,666,867 men were drafted, about 1,300,000 actually were deployed in europe. All males between the ages of 21 and 30 were required to register for military service. Asian Indians form the Hindustani Welfare Reform Association in the Imperial and Coachella valleys in southern California.

1919 
JAPANESE LABOR UNION
Japanese form Federation of Japanese Labor in Hawaii.

1919 
SAMMY LEE IS BORN
Sammy Lee, Olympic gold medalist in diving, born in Fresno, CA.

1919 
KOREAN AMERICAN "RICE KING"
February 20. The School of Aviation was founded in Willows, California, when
Kim Chong-nim, a successful Korean American rice farmer known as the "rice king," donated three airplanes. Future pilots were to be trained there to fight against the Japanese empire in the Korean struggle for independence from Japan.

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