Chatham Square NYPL Announces Event About ‘Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel and Ellis Islands’

Posted on: February 18th, 2015 at 5:10 am by
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The Chatham Square branch of the New York Public Library will host a new immigrant-themed event next month. It’s called “Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel and Ellis Islands.”

Led by author Judy Yung, the lecture and presentation will shed light on the so-called Chinese Exclusion Act that prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the country. The edict was not repealsed until 1943!

The program is set for March 7 at Chatham Square. More details:

In the early twentieth century, most Chinese immigrants coming to the United States were detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay. There, they were subject to physical exams, interrogations, and often long detentions aimed at upholding the exclusion laws that kept Chinese out of the country. Many detainees recorded their anger and frustrations, hopes and despair in poetry written and carved on the barrack walls.

The library has also invited local high school students to contribute poetry that tells of their own immigrant experiences.

It’s also worth noting that Sean Ferguson is the curator of this project. You may remember him from the stellar Lower East Side Heritage Film Series at the Seward Park Library the last few years. His new post is now at Chatham down the street. Unfortunately, that ephemeral film project is on semi-permanent hiatus. “No one has picked up the torch,” Ferguson tells us. “I am proud of the fact the the last Lower East Side Heritage Film Series program at Seward Park was with photographer Rebecca Lepkoff not long before she passed away.”

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