Suellen Cheng: The Unrecorded History of Early Chinese Immigrants

A native of China, Suellen Cheng studied under the tutelage of UCLA Historian Gary Nash, whose work influenced a new generation by emphasizing and celebrating the role of minorities and people of color in the larger narrative of American history. Following in his footsteps, as founding curator of the Chinese American Museum and now Museum Director and Curator of El Pueblo Historical Monument, Cheng has spent the last two decades of her career recovering the unrecorded history of early Chinese immigrants to Los Angeles and California. In the following videos, Suellen Cheng describes the first building blocks of the Chinese community in Los Angeles and the community's transition from a city of migrants to the home of longtime residents.


The Gold Mountain
"Suellen Cheng tells us about the two earliest Chinese residents in Los Angeles during the early 1850's."


Chinese Strike
"Suellen Cheng talks about the prolific Chinese farmers and their reaction to the city's tax levy. "


About Angel Island
"Suellen Cheng relates Angel Island to being the Ellis Island of the West Coast."


Early Racial Discrimination
"Suellen Cheng discusses the portrayal of Chinatown, its stereotypes and the legal discrimination facing the Chinese at the beginning of the 20th century."


Los Angeles is Home
"Suellen Cheng describes the changing definition of home for Chinese-Americans."



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