Wenxian Zhang, professor and head of archives and special collections at Olin Library, recently published a scholarly article, “Standing Up Against Racial Discrimination: Progressive Americans and the Chinese Exclusion Act in the Late Nineteenth Century,” in the summer 2019 issue of Phylon: The Clark Atlanta University Review of Race and Culture.
In his leading essay—which appeared in the special issue remembering the 150th anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois and the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr.—Zhang reveals the rare voices of some Chinese Americans and recognizes the bold vision and noble endeavors of a minority of Americans during the Exclusion Era of the late 19th century.
Throughout the national debates, these brave Americans argued that such a discriminatory measure was a direct violation of America’s moral principles of freedom, liberty, and equity for all. Although their calls for justice were engulfed by the anti-Chinese hysteria of the time, they stood on the right side of history, and their heroic acts have inspired those marginalized people in their continuing march for civil rights advancement in the United States.