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descendants of chinese railroad workers

“We haven’t really pushed the envelope and insisted that these contributions be recognized until fairly recently,” Kwan said. Lu told the audience, which included railroad-worker descendants from around the country, that they were beginning to "right an old wrong. 4014 during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad completion at Union Station Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. "To me, that's quite meaningful in that it's a final acceptance," said Yu, who added she's also found a kind of closure. They were hired because nobody else would do the work.". East finally met West 145 years ago on America's first transcontinental railroad. Veronica Peterson is in the doctoral program in archaeology at Harvard University. Voices From The Railroad: Stories By Descendants Of Chinese Railroad Workers. East finally met West 145 years ago on America's first transcontinental railroad. 150 th Anniversary of Transcontinental Railroad: May 10, 2019. "Being a first-generation immigrant and having a Chinese accent, you often hear, 'You're taking advantage of the infrastructure that's built by others who came before you' – assuming, of course, that the 'others' are Caucasian and not really our ancestors," Xiao says. On Thursday, group member Margaret Yee helped tap a ceremonial spike alongside Utah Gov. "History — at least photographically — says that the Chinese were not present," says photographer Corky Lee. "In the middle are the two engineers shaking hands," Yu says. He is in talks with Utah education officials about making the lessons a permanent part of history classes. Ms. Yu’s great-grandfather helped build the railroad, and her mother was the only descendant of the Chinese workers at the 100th celebration of the golden spike ceremony in 1969. Courtesy of Alfred A. Hart Photograph Collection, Stanford University, Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project's website. America's first transcontinental railroad was completed with a golden spike 145 years ago. More photos can be found on Stanford University's Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project's website. They made up the overwhelming majority of its workforce. Co-edited by Sue Lee and Connie Young Yu, full-length book features first-hand narratives by descendants of Chinese workers who built US Transcontinental Railroad. “Voices from the Railroad,” is a collection of true stories by nine descendants of Chinese railroad workers. "And then you had a nation that not only did not appreciate their efforts, but then led to exclusion after that.". The law, which lasted for more than a half-century, was part of a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment that the ancestors of Lisa Hsiao and Susan Yu experienced firsthand. The completion of the railroad is considered a pivotal moment in U.S. history that ushered in a new era of travel, shipping and trade and symbolically united a nation that was divided by the recent Civil War. Michael Solorio feels fortunate that his family was able to determine that his maternal great-great-great-grandfather, Lim Lip Hong… Chinese laborers were often the most exploited. Some suffered brutal deaths in explosions. hide caption. Courtesy of National Archives Max Chang, a board member of the Golden Spike foundation that’s been helping plan anniversary events, has been giving volunteer presentations on Chinese workers at elementary and middle schools throughout Utah. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor inducted the Chinese railroad workers into their Hall of Honor. Chang said he was surprised when hundreds of people attended a project showcase at Stanford. Among those who will be in Utah to recreate the photograph will be two descendants of the Chinese railroad workers. America's first transcontinental railroad was completed with a golden spike 145 years ago. No longer nameless, faceless workers lost to history, their stories will shatter misconceptions about the Chinese who helped build America. By February 1867, around 90 percent of the Central Pacific workforce was Chinese, according to the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at … Gary Herbert and a descendant of Union Pacific's chief engineer on the project at the event Thursday in Ogden, Utah. How are you related to a descendant of a transcontinental railroad worker and … Kwan, who is president of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, and his group are participating as part of a drive to be more involved in railroad celebrations and long-term projects. According to the Chinese Railroad Workers Project, Central Pacific started with a crew of 21 Chinese workers in January 1864. While some reports back then suggest about 150 died, Chang believes deaths numbered in the hundreds. They contended with racism, pay disparity and dangerous tasks in grueling terrain. The Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association is a national, membership based, charitable organization which seeks to preserve, promote and protect the contributions made by Chinese railroad workers to the United States. “Their bodies weren’t recovered till next spring. Gary Herbert and a descendant of Union Pacific’s chief engineer on the project at an event in Ogden. The original photo commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 did not include Chinese laborers. “And I complain when my trainer says we’re going to add 10 pounds.”. Over the years, one photograph in particular from May 10, 1869, has taken root in U.S. history. “Travel that took six months to go from New York to San Francisco at the risk of your life literally turned into a 10-day excursion in relative comfort,” he said. A group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreated an iconic photo on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad's completion at Promontory Summit, Utah. Michael Solorio feels fortunate that his family was able to determine that his maternal great-great-great-grandfather, Lim Lip Hong, worked as a foreman on the Central Pacific Railroad while thousands of other workers remain nameless. The descendants group is raising money for a statue of a Chinese railroad worker at Golden Spike National Historic Park. The project has amassed a treasure trove of oral histories, letters, periodicals and other materials since 2012. Standing in front of the Hall of Honor before the new plaque's unveiling, Hsiao, a … Other groups including the Irish, members of The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and former slaves navigating Reconstruction also helped work on the entire railroad. "It's a black-and-white, very historic-looking photo," says Connie Young Yu, the great-granddaughter of a Chinese laborer on the railroad. hide caption. Courtesy of Corky Lee The centennial was a bitter disappointment for the descendants of the Chinese railroad workers, she said. Descendants of Chinese laborers are paying homage to their ancestors on the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad Kwan, of the descendants group, said education can help dispel the tendency for people to see Asian Americans as not fitting the image of what is “American.”, “We’ve been here for more than 150 years and we have contributed every step of the way,” Kwan said. Importantly, it puts the Chinese railroad workers “on the map” of American history, giving humanity to what has been perceived as “nameless thousands of Chinese laborers.” The descendants give evidence of their ancestors’ role on the Central Pacific Railroad, how they survived … “I think it indicates there’s a tremendous interest and curiosity and hunger for this,” Chang said. At a ceremony in Washington, D.C., this week, Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu helped to induct the Chinese railroad workers into the department's Hall of Honor, where a glass plaque commemorating their efforts now hangs alongside the signatures of well-known figures in American labor history, like Cesar Chavez, Samuel Gompers and Bayard Rustin. The bubbly marked the long-awaited completion of the Gateway to the American West, nearly 2,000 miles of iron rail that crossed the Rockies and Sierra Nevada. In the first of 5 articles about the Transcontinental Railroad anniversary, descendants of Chinese railroad workers share their hope for the recognition of their ancestors' labor. Thousands of Chinese workers helped build it, but their faces were left out of … The descendants group also is raising money for a statue of a Chinese railroad worker at Golden Spike National Historic Park. No longer nameless, faceless workers lost to history, their stories will shatter misconceptions about the Chinese who helped build America. Margaret Yee and Karen Kwan agreed to answer a few questions from AsAmNews. ", "These were immigrants who came to this country seeking a better life, and they had the chance to work on something really extraordinary," Lu explained in an interview in his office before the ceremony. “Even after all this work was put in to make the railroad, there continued to be real intense racism against the Chinese.”. Qty Quantity. Both federal employees, Hsiao and Yu are also descendants of transcontinental railroad workers. Related Program: "The Chinese railroad workers were widely discriminated against. "Maybe implicitly [it's] a little bit of a recognition of the injustice," she said. Chinese laborers at work on construction for the railroad … Learn about the Chinese workers of the Central Pacific Railroad. So, in 2002, Lee gathered a group of Chinese-Americans at that same location in northern Utah to re-create the historic shot, and he did it again on Saturday with some descendants of those Chinese laborers. Archaeologists help modern descendants of Chinese railroad laborers commemorate their ancestors. Nearly two decades after the railroad's completion, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese laborers from entering the U.S. Chinese immigrants already in America were kept from becoming citizens. “I’m just a parent who wants to make sure my children and grandchildren will eventually know the story of the Chinese railroad worker.”. The international team of academics working on the project will assemble a registry of descendants of Chinese railroad workers in the United States and … The Salt Lake City native is not a descendant, but it always bothered him that Chinese laborers were “a really small footnote” in history classes. Clamoring for recognition for them has gotten louder in recent years. Add to cart. She doesn't have ancestors who worked on the transcontinental railroad, but for her, it's still a period of American history worth remembering. A conference sponsored by the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association (goldenspike150.org) May 8-11 will feature speakers and a visit to … You’re talking about 12 hours of lifting and hammering and blowing things up,” said Kwan, a judge in Salt Lake City. Few UCRFA officers, few Chinese railroad worker descendants and Professor Hilton Obenzinger, Associate Director of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Stanford University joined together received the third medallion on behalf of Central Pacific labors. By Hansi Lo Wang • May 10, 2014 . Some photographs taken during the railroad's construction feature Chinese laborers. A group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreated an iconic photo on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad's completion at Promontory Summit, Utah. “They say the Chinese built the railroad. The Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association (CRWDA) is a national, membership based, charitable organization which seeks to preserve, promote and protect the contributions made by Chinese railroad workers to the United States. Ze Min Xiao, a board member of the Utah chapter of OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates, helped to organize the event. Standing in front of the Hall of Honor before the new plaque's unveiling, Hsiao, a sixth-generation Chinese-American, said the recognition is long overdue. the West, Chinese railroad workers are depicted as masses of worker bees, swarming over mountains and plains, nameless, faceless, devoid of humanity. The railroad built America,” Yee said. Voices from the Railroad: Stories by descendants of Chinese Railroad Workers . Kwan, who is president of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, and his group are participating as part of a drive to be more involved in railroad … I n 1864, 15-year-old Hung Lai Wah and his older brother Hung Jick Wah laid an offering at the Hung family temple in Dailong Village, Guangdong, China. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ttangAP, Margaret Yee, whose ancestors helped build the railroad, pose in front of the the Big Boy, No. As a junior high school student, he pored over the photo with a magnifying glass. The iconic image shows a crowd of men swarmed around two locomotives. Thousands of Chinese workers helped build it, but their faces were left out of … More photos can be found on Stanford University's Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project's website. The descendants group also is raising money for a statue of a Chinese railroad worker at Golden Spike National Historic Park. The Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association will be in remote Promontory Summit on Friday for a photo reenactment of the hammering of the final golden spike of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869. For descendants of Chinese railroad workers and nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants, the work that Chinese Railroad Workers Project co-directors Shelley Fisher Fishkin and Gordon Chang … The anti-Chinese ... information on nineteenth-century railroad workers from descendants three, four, or . Sometimes they would be uncovered as the snow melted with their work tools still in their hands,” Chang said. But he couldn't spot a single Chinese laborer in the picture, even though more than 12,000 workers from southern China were hired by the Central Pacific Railroad. Much of the building was done by thousands of laborers brought in from China, but their faces were left out of photographs taken on that momentous day. Avalanches also took lives. New York Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat, introduced a resolution in March that would honor them and renewed a call for an honorary postage stamp. This 100-page book features first-hand narratives by railroad worker descendants Gene O. Chan, Montgomery Hom, Carolyn Kuhn, Paulette Liang, Russell N. Low, Sandra K. Lee, Andrea Yee, Vicki Tong Young, and Connie Young Yu . Kwan and other Chinese Americans are pushing for these workers — some of whom lost their lives building the Western portion of the railroad — to get more than a token mention in history books. Yee, helped tap a ceremonial spike alongside Utah Gov. Like previous years, they are sponsoring this week’s Golden Spike Conference, which includes theatrical productions and panels, including one with Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. “You’re not talking about 12 hours sitting at a desk or sitting on a bench. $25.99. The original photo commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 did not include Chinese laborers. During a brief presentation, Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz hailed the laborers who put in 12-hour days in brutal conditions to build the railroad by hand, saying their work “changed America forever.”. Remembering the Forgotten Chinese Railroad Workers. At an elevation as high as 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) on the Sierra Nevada range, they were ordered to blast through solid granite using nitroglycerine. Several thousand people attended the anniversary celebration, which featured a pair of restored 1940s-era steam engines. "They're standing in the same spot where, 145 years ago, there were no Chinese," he says. Yu said she takes comfort in seeing her great-grandfather's efforts remembered in the halls of the U.S. government. The descendants group also is raising money for a statue of a Chinese railroad worker at Golden Spike National Historic Park. This week marks 150 years since the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, and several days’ worth of events are planned. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer), Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. Ms. Yu’s great-grandfather helped build the railroad, and her mother was the only descendant of the Chinese workers at the 100th celebration of the golden spike ceremony in … A junior at Stanford University, it’s not lost on him that he is attending a school founded by Central Pacific Railroad president Leland Stanford, who profited from Chinese labor. "And above them are workers hoisting champagne bottles.". OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Michael Kwan can’t help but think about what life was like on a daily basis for his great-great-grandfather in the 1860s, working 12-hour days in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range on the Transcontinental Railroad that would reshape the American landscape. “I had to do a lot of research to make sure I got the story right,” he said. 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