Korean American actor John Cho has written Troublemaker, an excellent novel for middle-school students about racism, a Korean American family, and the bonds of a son with his father. Cho lived in Everett for part of his young adult years and remembers going to the local Fred Meyer supermarket, and while his parents shopped, he would visit the book section and read a chapter in the novel, First Blood. Every week while his parents were purchasing their weekly groceries, John would read another chapter.
Jordan Park, a 12-year-old, is always in trouble unlike Sarah, his perfect sister, a junior in high school. As a Korean American kid, he cannot live up to the expectations of his parents, especially his father. Jordan picks poor friends and gets suspended from school for cheating on tests. He does not want to tell his parents about his suspension. He thinks he can prove to his family that he is not a bad kid.
The Park family lives in Los Angeles, and his father has a store in Koreatown. It is 1992 when race riots rock the city. Rodney King is beaten by four White police officers. Latasha Harlins is shot and killed by a Korean shop owner who says she thought the teen was shoplifting. The police found that Latasha had the money for the juice in her hand and was not stealing. Racial tensions are high.
Jordan and Sarah find themselves in this confusing and dangerous time. Jordan wants to help his father protect their store because the police do not do much for shop owners in Koreatown, but he can’t find a ride to the shop. His friend takes him part of the way, but then he leaves him at a neighborhood hangout. His sister worries and tries to find him.
In the end, Jordan learns a valuable lesson about guns from his father. He grows up a lot during that summer. This is a coming-of-age story of a young Korean American male and a portrait of his Korean American family. The dialogue pushes the story line forward and is a major element in creating an engaging novel.
Troublemaker provides an excellent opportunity for teachers and parents to talk about family relationships and how sometimes communications in the family get misinterpreted. The story emphasizes the dad’s love for his son though the son does not realize how much his father cares for him. Teachers can also have students talk about the racial conflicts between Blacks and Koreans, and police and communities of color. Though the story does not take on racial discord head on, it provides openings for educators to talk about the problems among communities of color. This book is extremely timely especially since there is so much anti-Asian hate in the nation today.
Antisemitism in America was not only widespread but went almost unnoticed in regard to the media prior to the Holocaust. This ideology was likely a result of the hold that Christianity had on many people’s lives, coupled with traditions of American culture. Dr. Baruch Braunstein spoke about this phenomenon in his speech A Symptom of the Disease that Kills Great Nations in December of 1939, right as the Second World War was beginning in Europe. Dr. Braunstein explained antisemitism within America and how it should be America’s greatest concern due to its relation to the persecution that was happening in German-occupied Europe. Dr. Braunstein does this through his use of powerful messages, such as how “if a nation closes itself off from others, it will fall and not be able to progress,”suggests that America is attempting to keep different ideas, religions, and cultures out, and in doing so is only harming themselves. Dr. Braunstein exclaimed that Americans should change their opinions on and reaction to Jewish people, in order to help further America by increasing tolerance of different people and their cultures.
Antisemitism within America was rising leading up to World War II because of the notion that Jewish people and other minority groups were the cause of America’s greatest issues even though they had been persecuted for centuries. Many Jewish Americans chose to ignore antisemitism and the persecution that was happening in America and abroad leading up to the war believing that they were not the ones being harmed.2 This led to a cultural separation of Jewish people and helped the American Jewish people look past what was going on abroad. This disconnect allowed antisemitism to continue in the United States because Jewish people were less likely to point out or condemn it when they saw it happening. But antisemitism was not only happening in Europe and in American cities, it was prevalent in the American government.
The American government continued to stay out of the Second World War physically, yet by allowing widespread antisemitism to continue, the American Government made a statement about where the nation stood when it came to antisemitism. Many politicians at this time were known to have had antisemitic ideologies, even President Roosevelt had antisemitic ideologies during his presidency, believing that Jewish people should not immigrate to America or seek refuge here. The Roosevelt administration also refused to allow refugees that were fleeing German-occupied nations, never increasing their quotas for the number of Jewish refugees.
While Roosevelt’s antisemitic ideologies were not always public, many came to light because of the Morgenthau Project after Roosevelt’s death.The Morgenthau project, created after FDR’s presidency, discloses many private conversations the President had with colleague Henry Morgenthau through the digital archiving of Morgenthau’s private diary entries and letters.These letters revealed some of the policies and ideologies that President Roosevelt held which might not have been formerly made public. Included in these documents was a letter that Roosevelt had sent to Morgenthau about his idea to “spread thin” the Jewish and other immigrants that came to America. Roosevelt believed that immigrants of the same ethnicity or background should not settle together, but instead should be spread thinly around America in order to not “disrupt” the original cultural and political ideologies of the areas they settle.This ideology was not only anti-immigration but antisemitic, as well. Roosevelt believed that the Jewish people entering America would somehow alter and degrade the ways in which America would continue to run.
President Roosevelt in liaison with other government officials had a plan he called the M-project, not to be confused with the Morgenthau Project that was previously discussed. The M-project or “migration project” was an idea of what to do with the European migrants, particularly Jewish migrants, that were expected to be displaced at the end of the Second World War. The M-project was created in 1942, years prior to the end of the war, and was greenlit in secret by the president, who commissioned journalist John Franklin Carter and anthropologist Henry Field to create a survey of regions that would be suitable for Jewish people to live. President Roosevelt created this project in an attempt to find places in and out of the United States for Jewish refugees to be placed after the war. This concept was created in secret due to the antisemitic and controversial nature of the project. This project perpetuates the antisemitic and anti-immigration ideologies that Roosevelt had throughout his presidency.
During Roosevelt’s presidency, he attempted to show his support for the Jewish people being persecuted, but did not make headway in his efforts. Roosevelt set up an international conference called the Evian Conference in July of 1938 in order to address the issues arising in Germany at the time. At this conference, many nations agreed that Jewish people needed to be helped and that their laws about refugees should change. Despite this, most nations did not change the number of refugees they would allow, even though they “expressed sympathy for the refugees.”7 These nations would not allow them within their boundaries for fear of being taken over by Germany, and being dragged into the war. Instead of allowing more Jewish immigrants or refugees into the United States, President Roosevelt continued to display consistent performative activism by discussing the issue while making no legitimate attempts to help Jewish people. The lack of change after the Evian conference showed not only Nazi Germany that they could continue the persecution of Jewish people, but also showed Americans that there was no real movement to help Jewish people and that they could continue in their hateful ways. The United States continued to allow a limited number of Jewish immigrants during the war, and only ever approved 1000 Jewish refugees to enter America. President Roosevelt was more interested in performative activism than in supporting the Jewish people being prosecuted and murdered throughout German-occupied Europe. The lack of action from President Roosevelt influenced the way antisemitism and the holocaust were viewed in America until the United States joined the war.
Leading up to the Second World War, there was an abundance of antisemitism throughout America, much of which went ignored by the average citizen. Many Americans had very negative ideologies about Jewish people, and stereotypes ran rampant through the media. Historian Leonard Dinnerstein suggests that the increase in antisemitism at this point was in part due to the increased aggravation and suspicion of outsiders, with many other groups suffering from prejudice as well. Antisemitism at this time was not seen as an issue by non-Jewish Americans, and lacked media attention from gentile groups. Notably, a study done in November of 1938 showed that 52.5 percent of Americans believed there was very little hostility toward Jewish people in America, even though similar studies show that antisemitism was on the rise in the years leading up to World War II.In an attempt to change the tides of antisemitism, small video and audio updates about the progression of the war in Europe–called Newsreels–would play before movies and on the radio during the Interwar years from 1934 to 1938. They often informed people about foreign affairs such as the Annex of Austria and other nations.However, many Americans were wary about the specifics of the information that they consumed, due to the large amounts of misinformation and propaganda that Americans received during the First World War. The American Institute of Public Opinion found that in January of 1943, 29% of people thought that it was untrue that 2 million Jewish people had been killed since the beginning of the war.With almost a third of Americans remaining unsure about the information they consumed about the war, a change in America’s views about Jewish people seemed unlikely.
1 Braunstein, Baruch. 1939 “A Symptom of the Disease that Kills Great Nations.” Transcript of speech delivered at Institute on Contemporary Jewish Affairs in Washington D.C., December 12th, 1939.
 Rafael Medoff, “What FDR Said about Jews in Private,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times, April 7,
Sense of Origins: A Study of New York’s Young Italian Americans
by Rosemary Serra, translated by Scott R. Kapuscinski
In Sense of Origins, Rosemary Serra explores the lives of a significant group of self-identified young Italian Americans residing in New York City and its surrounding areas. The book presents and examines the results of a survey she conducted of their values, family relationships, prejudices and stereotypes, affiliations, attitudes and behaviors, and future perspectives of Italian American culture. The core of the study focuses on self-identification with Italian cultural heritage and analyzes it according to five aspects—physical, personality, cultural, psychological, and emotional/affective. The data provides insights into today’s young Italian Americans and the ways their perception of reality in everyday interactions is affected by their heritage, while shedding light on the value and symbolic references that come with an Italian heritage. Through her rendering of relevant facets that emerge from the study, Serra constructs interpretative models useful for outlining the physiognomy and characterization of second, third, fourth, and fifth generations of Italian Americans. In the current climate, questions of ethnicity and migrant identity around the world make Sense of Origins useful not only to the Italian American community but also to the descendants of the innumerable present-day migrants who find themselves living in countries different from those of their ancestors. The book will resonate in future explorations of ethnic identity in the United States. Rosemary Serra is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Trieste, Italy. Scott R. Kapuscinski teaches English at Queens College, City University of New York.
Immigration Matters: Movements, Visions, and Strategies for a Progressive Future
Edited by Ruth Milkman, Deepak Bhargava, and Penny Lewis
According to the editors of this collection of sixteen timely essays, “during the past decade, right-wing nativists have stoked popular hostility to the nation’s foreign-born population, forcing the immigrant rights movement into a defensive posture. In the Trump years, preoccupied with crisis upon crisis, advocates had few opportunities to consider questions of long-term policy or future strategy. Now is the time for a reset.” Immigration Matters oﬀers a new, actionable vision for immigration policy. It brings together key movement leaders and academics to share cutting-edge approaches to the urgent issues facing the immigrant community, along with fresh solutions to vexing questions of so-called “future ﬂows” that have bedeviled policy makers for decades. The book also explores the contributions of immigrants to the nation’s identity, its economy, and progressive movements for social change. Immigration Matters delves into a variety of topics including new ways to frame immigration issues, fresh thinking on key aspects of policy, challenges of integration, workers’ rights, family reuniﬁcation, legalization, paths to citizenship, and humane enforcement.
The perfect handbook for immigration activists, scholars, policy makers, and anyone who cares about one of the most contentious issues of our age, Immigration Matters makes accessible an immigration policy that both remediates the harm done to immigrant workers and communities under Trump and advances a bold new vision for the future. In a review, Julián Castro, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (2014–2017), argues “For too long, politicians have stoked nativism and weaponized our immigration system to divide people. Democrats and progressives shouldn’t be afraid to put forward a bold, forward-thinking vision for immigration that is rooted in common sense and compassion, instead of cruelty. Immigration Matters helps illuminate that vision and provides a path forward for achieving it.”
The book includes essays by immigration activists from People’s Action, the National Immigration Law Center, United We Dream, UNITE HERE, and Congressional Representative Pramila Jayapal (Dem-WA). Ruth Milkman is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. Deepak Bhargava is a Distinguished Lecturer in Urban Studies at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies and was previously president of the Center for Community Change. Penny Lewis is an associate professor of labor studies at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.
“I love studying history because it’s nice reading about people who overcame a lifetime of difficulties against all odds.”
“Every Sunday, we walked together about five miles to church. We didn’t have a car, so we walked over an hour to arrive at Mass on time. We had the choice of going to 7:00 A.M. Mass at the monastery or walk in the opposite direction for 9:00 A.M. Mass at church in Shinrone. On rainy days, we ran while the rain soaked through our clothes. To this day, I never remember seeing an umbrella in Ireland.”(p. 29)
The hidden stories of ordinary people are an essential part of the historical narrative. Unfortunately, these stories remain hidden. Everyone reading this book review has an important story – one related to triumph, tragedy, perseverance, culture, faith, and philosophy. The story of Peg Holland began on April 12, 1937. It was the age of the Zeppelins and there was a good chance that the giant German airship with 97 passengers passed over the farm house of the Hollands on its fateful voyage to Lakehurst, New Jersey in May of 1937. Peg will grow up during World War II and her life as a young adult at the age of 13 will begin in the middle of the 20th century. This is significant as immigrants from West Germany and Ireland came to America in the hope of a better life. The United States of America was a place of hope, liberty, and freedom from the traditions of Europe.
The story of Peg Holland is anything but ordinary as it reveals insights into Irish and American culture. Her story is powerful and very different from Life with Beaver or Father Knows Best. The story of history is the story of people. Through her experiences we learn about Elvis, Irish clubs, dating, conflicts, and hopes. The stories of ordinary people are valuable because they provide insights that are deeper than nostalgia. They reveal why liberty, equality, homeownership, education, and family are important and at times appear to be the ‘impossible’ dream. In this context we see how an immigrant woman comes to understand the purpose of the American Revolution for her. This is a story that prompts inquiry and discussion by students in a Sociology or history class, book club, or religious study group.
The design of this book is carefully planned for discussion and reflection as each chapter is less than ten pages taking less than 15 minutes to read. Each chapter includes a unique episode similar to binge watching a streaming movie. In fact, one might look at this book in terms of five seasons:
Season 1 (life in rural Ireland)
Season 2 (adoption of Mary and moving to New York)
Season 3 (married life)
Season 4 (unexpected situations)
Season 5 (reunion and optimism)
This memoir is an inspiring account of the discrimination of an unwed teenage mother experienced by the women in her community, a decision for adoption of her nine-month old daughter, working as a nanny, finding love in the Bronx, moving to the suburbs of New Jersey, the extended Irish family, and her reunion with her daughter 50 years later.
This historical narrative takes place over 70 years from 1950 through 2020 from the perspective of an immigrant woman from Ireland. It includes her memories of dating in the Sixties, apartment living in the largest city in the world and making the move to the suburbs, the influence of music, television, and the church in her life, returning to Ireland, and community social events. For teachers interested in using this memoir to help students understand culture, family, and faith, this book provides a sociological framework of American culture during the last four decades of the 20th century and the transition into the 21stcentury by a senior citizen and grandparent. The setting is Long Island, the Bronx and Bergen County, NJ.
The book will also prompt serious questions about how an immigrant teenage girl from Ireland entered the United States under the restrictions of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (McCarran-Walter Act), the role of Catholic Charities and other religious and private agencies with the relocation of people, commercial airline travel in the 1950s, the increased demand for parochial education, raising children, the baby boom generation, the influence of social clubs, the role of women in Irish and American culture, and how the American Dream of Peg Holland compares to the American Dream as defined by Betty Friedan:
“Each suburban wife struggled with it alone…they learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights….” (Rudnick, 72). Friedan goes on to emphasize how societal views have caused women’s “greatest ambition” to be marriage and children. Her biggest point eludes that “it is easy to see the concrete details that trap the suburban housewife, the continual demands on her time.”American Dream Project
For members of a book club, the book provides opportunities for discussion about teenage pregnancy, resilience, perseverance, facing discrimination, gangs, the life of an unmarried woman, struggling with debt, coping with cancer, raising a family, the importance of faith and hope, and if our lives are predetermined by a higher force or subject to chance and luck. The characters are real and their stories are from their hearts. Even if the authors edited phrases or words, the primary source documentation and candid expressions will make your eyes water with sadness and happiness.
For members of a religious discussion group this memoir offers ten examples of situations that require us to hit the pause button and stop and think. For example, the circumstances of a virgin pregnancy, living away from home during her pregnancy, twists and turns of the decision to give a daughter up for adoption, working as a nanny, finding friends, falling in love, purchasing a home, facing devastating health issues, reunion in Ireland, and receiving an unexpected phone call.
For those who may read this book as an individual, I can only provide my perspective as a man, husband, and grandfather. I experienced emotions of sadness, helplessness, empathy, inspiration, encouragement, and thanks for my personal religious beliefs in reading Peg’s personal story. It made me think about the teenage mothers I knew, decisions about who to trust, personal hardships and triumphs, the power of forgiveness, and the challenges teenagers and parents face. The characters in this memoir are living examples of these experiences.
I also enjoyed the Irish culture and local color of Long Island, Valentine Ave. in the Bronx, and Hawthorne, NJ. These were all places where I lived but my experience was one of a middle-class man with a college education. To some extent my stereotypes of Irish culture found agreement and yet they were also proven wrong and my perspective of life and culture was broadened.
“My prayers were always the same. I prayed to God to help me get over my guilt, and He answered my prayers. After each conversation with Mary, I could feel the healing continue. I began to feel like a person who was more sure of herself. I was no longer stuck beating myself up over something I have no control over anymore. I told myself Enough already, I cried so many nights after I gave Mary away and when I was by myself. Finally hearing Mary’s voice and everything she had accomplished in her life shot through me to my core and started to heal me within. It was confirmed I did the right thing.” (words of Peg Holland O’Hagan in her mid-70s)
The book is available on Amazon. It is written by a husband and wife with professional careers in education. I am honored that Thomas is my former student and years later became my colleague.
Where We Started is a historical look at the United States from 1740-1864 that brings the past and its inhabitants alive and makes possible a very different understanding of the history of the United States, enslavement, and the struggle for freedom. Arthur Dobrin is an American author, Professor Emeritus of Management, Entrepreneurship, and General Business at Hofstra University and Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. Dr. Arthur Dobrin served two years in the Peace Corps with his wife, Lyn, in Kenya. He has maintained his interest in Kenya since, having returned with his family and having led educational safaris to Kenya for Adelphi University School of Social Work.
“In Where we Started, Dobrin creates a world that leaves the reader enough space to make moral judgments themselves, while at the same time showing how perspective changes the weight of all these considerations. The novel reads like parables, strewn together and buoyed by historical context.” – Christian Hayden, African American activist.
“The novel is a narrative on the development of American society, taking a realistic view of the social interactions between the Old and New World, and between the societal facets that coalesced to produce what we call Americans. This work does not shy away from some very sensitive and difficult narratives, and ones that require discourse today more than ever.” – Clifford J Pereira, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
“I was touched by the individual events and stories. This book is very clearly in line with the telling of racial history in the USA country. No one would read this book and not be more aware of the ways in which it tells the sad story of race in the USA.” – Don Johnson, retired minister.
“Many historical novels are accurate in detail but not in the deeper reality of a period. Dobrin’s great accomplishment is that he places the reader in each period, as the people of the period would likely have experienced it.” – Dr. Michael S. Franch, President of Baltimore City Historical Society.
Castle Garden: An Early Gateway to the United States
Since the founding of the United States, millions of people hoping for a brighter future left their home countries and immigrated to the United States. The number of immigrants increased dramatically after the Civil War with nearly 12 million arriving between 1870-1900. More than 70% of all immigrants entered through New York City. Castle Garden opened in 1855 as the primary immigration processing center and operated as such until Ellis Island’s opening in 1892 (though from 1890-1892, the center was moved to the U.S. Barge Office). These are some of the stories behind some of those immigrants’ arrivals.
A. Sisters Arrive at Castle Garden with Names Painted on Boards Attached Like Breastplates, Boston Globe, September 6, 1884: 4 (reprinted from the New York World)
“Maggie and Mary Slinsby, 9 and 10 years old, from Tipperary, Ireland. arrived at Castle Garden yesterday on the steamer Republic. They are going to their parents in Urbana, O. The most noticeable feature about them was an elaborate, heavy cardboard breast-plate on which the name of each child was neatly printed, evidently by a professional painter. The cards were attached to the body by a profusion of green ribbons. Clerk Kilroy. who took charge of the children, declared the cardboard breast-plates to be “the high – tonedest [sic] affairs he had ever seen at the Garden.”
B. Unaccompanied small children arrive at Castle Garden, The Inter Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, April 17, 1887: 6 “Among the passenger of the steamship Britannic, which arrived at Castle Garden to-day, were two children. James and Annie Morris, 9 and 11 year old. Eight years ago their parent left Ireland to seek fortune in his country. They left their children with a grandmother and recently sent for them. There was no one at the Garden to welcome too children after their long and stormy voyage. Their parents live in Cleveland, Ohio. They were at once notified by telegraph. The children will be cared for at Castle garden until their parents send money for their fare to Cleveland.
C. Three children tagged and shipped to Chicago to meet their father after arriving at Castle Garden, New York Times, August 9, 1887: 3.
“Otto Heinzman, Superintendent of the Castle Garden Landing Bureau, placed tags yesterday on Louisa Schmidt, aged 8, and her brothers, who are twins, several years younger than herself, and shipped them to their father, who resides in Chicago. They arrived at Castle Garden Saturday.”
D. A 10-year-old girl arrives at Castle Garden to reunite with her mother, Boston Globe, September 14, 1887: 4
Among the crowd of immigrants who arrived at Castle Garden today were two more remarkable than the rest. One was a woman over 80 years of age; the other a child of 10. The old woman was going to Elmira to die with her only daughter and two sons. The little girl was on her way to her mother. who is living in Webster, Mass. The two are from the same barony in county Clare, Ireland, but are wholly unknown to each other. The old woman. whose name is Margaret Collins, cannot speak a word of English; but the little girl speaks it with a fluency and vivaciousness that interested everybody in the garden. Her name is Mary Whalen. Twenty-three years ago, Mrs. Collins said, her three children, Patrick. John and Jane, left her and their father to try their fortune in America, and settled in Elmira. Herself and the old man, Pat, remained on the old sod, cultivating the little farm they had held ever since they were married, and on which their children had been born. She received a letter, she said, every Michaelmas. Christmas and Lady day from her children, bringing her money to make herself and the old man comfortable, and to pay the landlord the rent of the little patch of land. But on Lady day last year the old man died, and then she had no one in the old land on whom she could rely. Her children learned of their father’s death and insisted on her coming to this country. One of them, Mrs. Jane Costello, wife of Martin Costello, South Main street, Elmira. is herself a grandmother. As soon as the old lady arrived at Castle Garden word was sent to her children at Elmira, and a grave-looking old gentleman presented himself, stating that he wanted his mother. She was given to him, and be took her away to die amid her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The other immigrant was born after her father’s death, and, after being nursed for a little over four years by her mother, was left in the care of the nuns at Kilrush. in the County Clare, in which the child was born. Her mother. with her two eider children, boys, at that time immigrated hither and settled in Webster, Mass. Mrs. Whalen worked as a dressmaker and nut her two boys to the tailoring business, and will now be happy in the possession of her little daughter.”
E. “To Meet Her Lover,” The Oakes Times, Oakes, North Dakota, December 12, 1890: 5.
At 5:30 in the morning a well-dressed young woman arrived in Utica from Castle Garden. He had come all this way from a place in western Russia, and was on her way to meet her lover in Duluth, Minn., who had left her two years before to find a home for both of them in the New World. He went to Duluth and became fairly prosperous. As soon as he was able he wrote to his sweetheart and urged her to come to him, but the age and sickness of her parents kept her in Russia until this year. Both her parents having died, the young man sent her tickets to bring her to America, with what was supposed to be sufficient money for the journey. The young woman began her journey more than a month ago, and when she arrived at Castle Garden thought she must be within a few hours’ journey of her friend. She came on to Utica, as stated, and was taken to the Central depot, whence she was to proceed on her journey by another train. She waited about the depot all day, and at night in broken German told Leonard Pruey, the baggage master, that she had not had anything to eat all day, and had only twenty cents in her purse. When she had recited the whole story, and Mr. Pruey told her that instead of a few hours she would yet have several days of travel, her distress was pitiful. The kind hearted baggageman promised to do all he could for her, and began his ministrations by giving her a square meal. He then interested himself in bettering her financial condition, and told Conductor John Unser, of Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg, about it. Mr. Unser was bound north with his train and made no promises, but early the next morning when he came to Utica again, he gave Mr. Pruey a purse of money which he had collected on his train to help the girl on her way. She finally left Utica, after a delay of about twenty-four hours, with a big bag of provisions and many good wishes.”
F. New immigrants visit bathhouse at Castle Garden, New York Times, August 4, 1855: 1.
“Next, the emigrant is shown to the baths. We join the crowd of males that flock in to the right. Here we find a large room, in the centre of which hang several coarse roller towels, and along the side is a deep trough of running Croton. This is the wash-room. Soap abounds- we hope no motives of niggardly economy will ever make it less plenty. Behind a screen that reaches across the room is the basin for bathing. A dozen or two can be accommodated in it at the same time. Indeed, every facility is granted the new corner, whatever may be his condition on entering it, to leave Castle Garden personally clean. The female bath and wash-room were the counterpart of the male, but as it was in use at the time, we consented to take the statement of our conductor and forego a personal investigation.”
G. “A Pitiful Story, If True,” Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, January 14, 1879: 3
“An old man yesterday morning appealed to Superintendent Jackson of Castle Garden, for assistance to reach, his home in Hungary. His name is Paul Ostrich, 66 years old. He arrived at Castle Garden, he says, on the steamship Pennsylvania last March, with $500 in money, having been told by immigrant agents in Hungary that he would soon become a wealthy man in America. He was a farmer, and finally hired a few acres of ground in Washington Territory, but on account of lack of rain his crops failed, and he lost everything. He then wandered to San Francisco, and, applying to a German society, was furnished with a ticket to Omaha and $3 in money. Letters were given him by railroad agents in San Francisco to those in Omaha, asking them to help him on, but at Omaha all assistance was refused him. Ostrich then started on foot September 17th for New York, inquiring his way as he went along. With the exception of two nights, when he was entertained by German families, he slept either in the fields or barns. He walked the entire distance to New York barefooted and scantily clothed, his food consisting of bread and pork, which he was able to buy with his small pittance, and which lasted him until a few days ago. Sometimes he picked up a few apples. He could not describe the route by which he came, but remembers passing through Chicago. Upon his arrival here, his limbs were swollen and his feet blistered and sore. Dr. Villaniyi gave him food, doctored his wounds and gave him two dollars. The doctor also took him to a clergyman, who gave him a pair of shoes and a supply of clothing, and then directed him to Castle Garden.
H. A Castle Garden Romance, New York Times, October 1, 1878: 8
“A little over five years ago Michael O’Brien left his wife and four children in Tipperary and came to this country to seek his fortune. For a while he corresponded with and sent money to his family. Suddenly both letters and remittances ceased, and they heard nothing more from him until recently, when his wife received information that he had married again. She immediately resolved to seek him out, and on Wednesday last she and the children landed at Castle Garden from the Bothnia. She knew that he had worked at one time in a dyeing factory at Glenwood, NJ, near Fort Lee; so on Friday she took the boat to the latter place in the hope of tracing him. On the boat she met some persons who knew him, and when they heard her story they directed her to the factory where he was still employed. She walked up to where he was working in ignorance which must have been blissful, and quietly tapped him on the back. She says he confessed his fault with many tears and promised reformation, but she is reticent as to whether any arrangement looking towards a happy reunion was arrived at. The Castle-Garden officials are of the opinion that this is so, and that she is trying to shield him from the consequences of his bigamy and the wrath of her rival.”
The individual care of a group or communities is often the best way to assimilate different demographics within home, school, or other places of safety and inclusion. One day Alicia Hsu, a teacher, was talking to her class about the circumstances of Rosa Parks’ epic stand against discrimination and asked if they were in her situation, what they would do? The children responded in their native dialect and answered, “I would move” (Hsu, 1995, p. 240). To which Mrs. Hsu asks gasping, “You would? But why?”… “Because,” Tang mumbled, “we do not belong. It is their home. It is their train” (Hsu, 1995, p. 240. To that effect Hsu wanted to know what went wrong and how she failed to inspire in them the belief that they have a place in a nation of immigrants, a nation to which they belonged for it was their home as well. During the 1800s to 1900s, Chinese immigrants were all but assimilated and cared for equally by their fellow man. As the racial tensions began to stir, many American legislators and policy makers view that the Chinese national character was inferior to that of the white men. This began to affect the children of Chinese immigrants in their ability to assimilate into American society. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound discrimination against Chinese and Chinese Americans were violence, racial legislation, belief in a superior race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants never saw themselves as Americans as they were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race.
Within the field of social studies it is important to understand subjects of sensitivity, particular in areas examining discrimination. Students want and desire to be educated based on the historical content and context of particular stories within American history that concern their own demographic in order to understand their own history and identify with it. Teachers in association are to deliver that content and express the ideas of the time and explain the significance of that very event. For it is within those very explanations and examples given by the instructor that a student readily intakes the subject matter and applies it to social gathers to see if that very old version of history within the U.S still holds true. If not then they are ready to identify signs of unequal treatment as they were informed based on how previously America held very different ideas on how immigrants should be treated. Within this very article seeks to demonstrate and inform instructors on the topic of Anti-Chinese sentiments that led to events such as the Chinese Exclusion Law, violence against Chinese Americans, and developing stereotypes that may continue today within modern American communities (Chung, 2018). The Chinese Exclusion law was used to deny entry to certain status types of Chinese immigrants but soon began to prevent all Chinese immigrants from coming into the United States either as skilled or unskilled laborers (Chinese Exclusion Act, 2009). Americans thought that Chinese immigrants would degrade morale in American communities with opium and gambling while stealing American jobs. The significance of the Chinese Exclusion law was that it allowed anti-Chinese Americans to brand Chinese immigrant families as deviants and pests in the American quality of life. Which prompted many Americans to confront the threat of the so-called new Chinese menace, by any means, to what was seen as an endangerment of their own communities. In relation one of the primary means to discriminate against Chinese immigrants that American citizens used was violence and political interference. These Americans were dubbed Anti-Chinese and used violence and other means to enforce fear in Chinese communities. Americans felt that Chinese immigrants were unsuited for American citizenship to participate in the American way of life. They saw Chinese Americana’s unworthy or unable to positively contribute to American communities and are only capable of stealing from it. The effects of how the treatment of Chinese Americans and the future generations onward demonstrate a change in attitudes in anti-Chinese immigration, thus prompting an essential question. What were the primary factors that led to having a profound impact of discriminatory practices against Chinese Americans and what did the children of those immigrants see themselves as within American culture?
The study of Chinese exclusion from American communities ranges from violence, discrimination, stereotyping, and lack of assimilation for the children of those very immigrants. In the work of Sue Fawn Chung, Chinese Exclusion, the First Bureau of Immigration, and the 1905 Special Chinese Census: Registered, Counted, Arrested, Deported–1892-1906, she depicts and analyzes the history of the Chinese Exclusion law with the inclusion of the Bureau of Immigration. The Bureau of Immigration primary focus was to find Chinese immigrants with improper documentation and detain them. Chung approaches the topic of Chinese exclusion by gathering evidence in accordance with the United States program created in the 1895 called BI which their primary purpose was to control immigrants, especially Chinese (Chung, 2018). Chung details that due to the BI’s realm of control at the time and enforcement powers involved regulations involved in completely sanctioned naked body search of Chinese immigrants despite knowing that in Chinese culture it was extremely offensive. Chung later argues that the new Chinese Census was an important part of the efforts for the BI to regulate further Chinese immigrants for political and economic reasons (Chung, 2018). That later created an atmosphere of fear as many Chinese immigrants view those very procedures made by the BI and Chinese Census were racially motivated. Finally, the main argument of Sun Fawn Chung was that Chinese immigrants were experiencing massive political struggle as anti-Chinese movements sought to protect American democracy in a nation full of immigrants from the seen Chinese menace.
The place of labor and economic fortune within America is seen by many as a market built and used by the American people. However, in Eddie L. Wong’s, Racial Reconstruction : Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship, he details how planters looked to China as a source for workers and importing them to the United states became known as “coolieism”, they were paid at a lower wage rate then white workers. Wong approaches his historical analysis by using source material from “Senate floor debates to Supreme Court test cases brought by Chinese activists, public anxieties over major shifts in the U.S. industrial landscape and class relations became displaced onto the figure of the Chinese labor immigrant who struggled for inclusion at a time when black freedmen were fighting to redefine citizenship” (Wong, 2015). That very source material helps Wong demonstrate a correlation towards immigration and citizenship troubles in the shadow of Reconstruction. For in the wake of racial exclusion, Wong states “post-emancipation deemed Native and Chinese Americans as unredeemable heathens and morally unfit to participate in America’s manifest Destiny” (Wong, 2015). This philosophy or declaration, directly decides that Chinese Americans are not only a hazard to American communities but unfit to partake in the greater picture in how America will spread itself across the continent. Meaning at the time, minority groups such as Chinese Americans have no desirable historical contribution worthy of note within the grand scheme of how the country will continue to grow and succeed. Thus, removing later generations of Chinese Americans to have any sort of assimilation to look to in order to see themselves as an American, as their culture was denied any sort of worthy contribution to the American way of life.
The treatment and racial discrimination of Chinese Americans are apparent within American society during the 1800s to 1900s. For during the so called invasion of the coolies was also when the very same Chinese Americans were experiencing discrimination from the American people and legislation out of stereotypical fears and potential lose in American jobs. As the racial tensions began to stir, many American legislators and policy makers viewed that the Chinese national character was inferior to the white man. This began soon to affect the children of Chinese immigrants in their ability to assimilate into American society. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound effects in discriminatory factors for Chinese Americans were violence, racial legislation, belief in a superior race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants never saw themselves as Americans as they were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race.
Nothing further increases the reality of political belief than the law itself to institute and enforce legislation. In the year of 1882 Congress passed a series of laws to exclude Chinese laborers from entering the United States (Meade, 2017, p. 293). Those very series of laws prompted the famous law that barred a single demographic for a century within the United States. The case itself is known as Chae Chan Ping vs. The United States, given the title “Chinese Exclusion” by Justice Stephen Field. The court’s power to regulate immigration to the U.S provided the parameters over a controversial legal debate. During this time in the early 1880s many Americans were clamoring for a sort of theoretical Chinese wall where there would be more guards stationed across major immigration ports and create a new administration to enforce this theoretical Chinese wall in light of the Chinese exclusion law. In relation to this, much of the controversy again stemmed from the association of the loss of jobs within American due to Chinese immigrants taking those very jobs. In terms of how the white laborer can combat this was seen as impossible, “if he would attempt competition with the coolie, and will always be driven from his presence, as cheap currency displaces the better for while it is true that wages are relatively highest on the Pacific Coast, the coolie reduces wages and competes everywhere.” and “White labor will not submit to the degradation of a rivalry with such a competitor, but will either assert its power through the government or be driven from the presence of the coolie altogether” (Meade, 2017). The competition between the two groups was seen as an impossible competition as some employers believed in natural rights to which the employer can choose whomever to engage while hiring including immigrants. Which further increases the case’s importance in and causes discrimination and witch hunting among American citizens to Chinese immigrants.
The identity of a foreign entity brings with them a blank slate of which its only purpose is to be filled with some sort of applicable standard over what they are. In the case of the Chinese immigrants, they were given racial inequality and were branded as pests within their new found American communities. What prompted the legal racial inequality was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, as those of Asian descent were the first to be barred from entering the United States and prevented them from gaining citizenship. The regulations towards the arrival of Chinese immigrants were those seeking skilled or unskilled labor under the fear of Chinese immigrants infecting the good order of certain localities within the United States. Within the original piece of legal material of the Chinese Exclusion Law states “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, …… coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States” (Chinese Exclusion Act, 2009). With the outlook of Chinese laborers as poor contributors to American communities and immigrants “stealing” the jobs of deserving Americans, many politicians rode the wave of Chinese exclusion by using 15 sections of Anti-Chinese legislation. By banning the Chinese laborers during the crisis of economic instability, being able to obtain a job lead to one of the primary factors in discriminatory ideas against Chinese Americans.
However, despite supposedly higher job opportunities many Chinese workers and Chinese Americans felt out of place and felt that they were not getting the opportunities they deserve just because they are Chinese. The story of Lawrence Klindt Kentwell, follows a Eurasian of English and Chinese descent who spent his formative years in Hawaii studying to be a lawyer. However due to his Chinese blood, he was excluded from local politics in Hawaii and thus did not have a single chance at entering the legal profession in the United States. The racism he experienced when trying to obtain his natural rights in the United States only made him strongly identify with his Chinese roots, leading him to leave his adopted home in America for good and go to China (Chen, 2019). Due to lack of equal treatment Kentwell felt that it was best to travel back where his roots came from in order to escape unequal treatment and seek better opportunity. Many Americans saw Chinese people as an inferior group was due to three main reasons such degradation of social standards, habits of filth, and the wage rate. Those very two factors affect social dynamics in American communities as the spreading stereotypes of Chinese immigrants began to warrant them unwanted discrimination and violence. Americans fought back against what they saw as the rise of Chinese immigration to be an invading army that was stealing the resources that they deserve as Americans. In relation to the idea of social standards the overall quality of American living within condensed neighborhoods were given the idea that the Chinese demoralize social instincts and customs. In short, Chinese immigrants would be “inveterate gamblers, opium smokers, bring no families with them, and have reduced prostitution to a system. ……. the Chinese immigrant gambles & deadens his sensibilities by smoking his opium.” (Atchinson, 1894, p. 141). Those very ideas of foreign born being attributed to America are seen as Anglo-Saxon traditions and continue to still affect it when dealing with attitudes towards immigration from the 1800s and 1900s. For within the Anglo-Saxon tradition sees itself as manifest child of destiny which has been encouraged thought American politics as they accept original various immigrants into their nation Also, shows a key correlation in Chinese American’s, in the face of racial discrimination and legislation, do not feel as if they are American as violence and discriminatory comments are against them. As the legislation and social attitudes change show from the 1800s to 1900s so does how Chinese Americans continue to see themselves.
Chinese Americans had lacked opportunities that were essential to their American way of living. The ability to assimilate into American culture was never properly given to them from the late 1800s to 1900s as many Chinese descendants felt they were alienated within the very nation they were born in. The history of violence, economic instability, discrimination, and alienation drove Chinese American descent and Chinese immigrants to experience hardships that they would not experience otherwise. For the usage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the denial of civil rights, racism, and stereotyping prompted many Americans to see Chinese immigrants as a pest. Thus undeserving of the American privileges which prompted a few Chinese Americans to shut themselves out of the American way of life as only “true Americans” can experience America or life in the United States altogether. For during the so called invasion of the “coolies” was also when the very same Chinese Americans were experiencing discrimination from the American people and legislation out of stereotypical fears and potential lose in American jobs. Jobs were being rapidly taken by Chinese workers for less pay, thus prompting Americans to view that the Chinese were stealing their jobs. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound effects in discriminatory factors for Chinese Americans were violence, racial legislation, belief in a superior race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants never saw themselves as Americans as they were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race. These feelings of lesser worth with the context of historically demographic treatment can leave an impact on a child who is discovering that his or her idea of the world is not all inspiring. Instead, they may see it as a battle for potentially, that someday, discrimination will perhaps resurface if the rights conditions are met. For the instructor’s role within teaching the subject, they must inform students how in certain parts of history there are terrible things that yet to be fully extinguished in our modern society. As such elements of discrimination has yet to leave world and instructors must inform students on that history in order to prevent and bring awareness to discrimination within and outside the classroom.
The current divisive debate over national immigration policy has two sets of confrontational positions. On one side, advocates of immigration favor a liberal policy of admitting sizable numbers of immigrants, no discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, or national origin, and protection of undocumented immigrants. On the other side, President Trump is the leading spokesperson and advocate for building a wall on our southern border with Mexico, banning certain immigrants from entering the country, and deporting those living here illegally, many of whom, he insists, are criminals.
The debate in some ways echoes discussions in the nation a century ago.
In 1921, the vice president published an article entitled “Whose Country Is This?” in the popular magazine Good Housekeeping. “We are confronted by the clamor of multitudes who desire the opportunity offered by American life,” the author noted. But America has no place for “the vicious, the weak of body, the shiftless or the improvident . . . Our country must cease to be regarded as a dumping ground.” People accorded the privilege of immigrating to the U.S. should become productive, patriotic citizens. “It would not be unjust to ask of every alien: What will you contribute to the common good, once your were admitted through the gates of liberty?”
“There are racial considerations too grave to be brushed aside for any sentimental reasons,” the author continued. “Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides.”
What was needed was “the right kind of immigration.”
That sounds a bit like some government leaders who are demanding immigration restriction today. Actually, it was Calvin Coolidge (R, Vice President, 1921-1923, President 1923-1929).
He became President on August 2, 1923, upon the death of President Warren G. Harding, and was elected in his own right the next year. Coolidge was bland and taciturn. He tried to avoid controversy. But Coolidge had strong views on immigration, some with parallels to today.
In his first address to Congress on December 6, 1923, he struck a theme of limited, selective immigration: “New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American. For this purpose, it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration.”
In 1924, he signed the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act which severely limited immigration, imposed a quota system based on the 1890 census which in effect favored northern Europeans over others, continued a longstanding ban on Chinese immigration, and imposed a new one on Japanese immigration.
His views on immigration were complicated. Speaking to a delegation of labor leaders on September 1, 1924, he asserted that “Restricted immigration has been adopted by this administration chiefly for the purpose of maintaining American standards. It undoubtedly has a very great economic effect. We want the people who live in America, no matter what their origin, to be able to continue in the enjoyment of their present unprecedented advantages. This opportunity would certainly be destroyed by the tremendous influx of foreign peoples if immigration were not restricted. Unemployment would become a menace, and there would follow an almost certain reduction of wages with all the attendant distress and despair which are now suffered in so many parts of Europe. Our first duty is to our own people.”
The Republican Party platform that Coolidge campaigned on that year put the economic case this way: “The unprecedented living conditions in Europe following the world war created a condition by which we were threatened with mass immigration that would have seriously disturbed our economic life. The law recently enacted [the Johnson-Reed Act] is designed to protect the inhabitants of our country, not only the American citizen, but also the alien already with us who is seeking to secure an economic foothold for himself and family from the competition that would come from unrestricted immigration.” Putting the jobs argument more directly, immigration restriction “saves the American job for the American workman,” as Coolidge said in a speech in December of that year.
On the other hand, he opposed some immigration restrictions and celebrated America as a melting pot. For instance, he lobbied Congress not to include the Japanese provision in the immigration act, and instead to continue a longstanding, informal agreement by which Japan voluntarily limited the number of its citizens emigrating to America. Congress included it anyway. In his formal signing statement on May 26, 1924, an angry Coolidge called the provision “unnecessary and deplorable” and asserted that Americans had a “sentiment of admiration and cordial friendship for the Japanese people” despite the new law.
He told the American Legion convention in 1925 that “Whether one traces his Americanism back three centuries to the Mayflower, or three years [ago in] the steerage, is not half so important as whether his Americanism of today is real and genuine. No matter by what various crafts we came here, we are all now in the same boat.”
In a 1926 speech, he said “when once our feet have touched this soil, when once we have made this land our home, wherever our place of birth, whatever our race, we are all blended in one common country. All artificial distinctions of lineage and rank are cast aside. We all rejoice in the title of Americans.” In Calvin Coolidge’s public utterances and his actions on immigration, several themes emerge. Some have reverberations for today.
Coolidge emphasized that America has prospered and excelled in the past. Times were good then. But things seem to be slipping. Principles and values seemed in danger and future prospects appeared dimmer. Coolidge thought Americans had to be on guard. That sentiment sounds similar to Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again.”
Coolidge encouraged assimilation. He believed that most past immigrants adopted American values and assimilated with the population already living here. Race, religion, and a consensus about the importance of family, hard work, and patriotism were important parts of that process. But, he went on, people now clamoring for admission were of different races and religions, and were determined to hold onto their own cultures and values. These new immigrants tended to stay together rather than assimilate and blend in and, to Coolidge, that made them a threat to the nation. Coolidge’s views in this area seem similar in some ways to Trump’s and other immigration restrictionists.
Economics was a critical issue in Coolidge’s thinking. The economy was expanding but there were only so many jobs to go around, he implied. Letting in too many immigrants would take jobs from citizens already here. America’s capacity to absorb newcomers was therefore limited. That sounds a lot like immigration restrictionists’ arguments that immigrants (particularly undocumented immigrants) compete with American citizens for jobs, especially low-paying positions.
Coolidge felt that Americans need not be concerned with conditions in other countries or the fate or prospects of people who wanted to come in as immigrants but were not allowed to do so. That was not something for which Americans had responsibility. It was up to those countries, and to the individuals living there, to fend for themselves. That, too, parallels the view expressed by immigration restrictionists today that unemployment, poverty, and violence elsewhere in the world, e.g., Central and South America, do not justify people from those nations seeking sanctuary here in the United States.
We have to keep to “America First!” — a vague and undefined but popular slogan among Coolidge and conservatives in those days and occasionally used by President Trump. It has overtones of American exceptionalism, nationalism, and patriotism but also undertones of nativism and racism.
Whose country is this? It was a central question a century ago, and still is today. President Coolidge and President Trump might have similar answers to the question.
Whose Country is This?
By Calvin Coolidge, Vice-President elect of the United States Good Housekeeping, volume 72 number 2, February 1921, pages 13-14, 109
Men and women, in and of themselves, are desirable. There can’t be too many inhabitants of the right kind, distributed in the right place. Great work there is for each and every one of them to perform. The country needs all the intelligence, and skill, and strength of mind and body it can get, whether we draw such form those within our gates, or from those without, seeking entrance. But since we are confronted by the clamor of multitudes who desire the opportunity offered by American life, we must face the situation unflinchingly, determined to relinquish not one iota of our obligations to others, yet not be so sentimental as to overlook our obligations to ourselves. It is a self-evident truth that in a healthy community there is no place for the vicious, the weak of body, the shiftless, or the improvident. As professor Sumner of Yale, asserts in his book, “The Forgotten Man,” “every part of capital which is wasted on the vicious, the idle, and the shiftless, is so much taken form the capital available to reward the independent and productive laborer.” We are in agreement with him in his conviction that the laborer must be protected “against the burdens of the good-for-nothing.
We want no such additions to our population as those who prey upon our institutions or our property. America has, in popular mind, been an asylum for those who have been driven form their homes in foreign countries because of various forms of political and religious oppression. But America cannot afford to remain an asylum after such people have passed the portals and begun to share the privileges of our institutions.
These institutions have flourished by reason of a common background of experience; they have been perpetuated by a common faith in the righteousness of their purpose; they have been handed down undiminished in effectiveness from our forefathers who conceived their spirit and prepared the foundations. We have put into operation our faith in equal opportunity before the law in exchange for equal obligation of citizens. All native-born Americans, directly or indirectly, have the advantage of our schools, our colleges, and our religious bodies. It is our belief that America could not otherwise exist. Faith in mankind is in no way inconsistent with a requirement for trained citizenship, both for men and women. No civilization can exist without a background-an active community of interest, a common aspiration-spiritual, social, and economic. It is a duty our country owes itself to require of all those aliens who come here that they have a background not inconsistent with American institutions. Such a background might consist either of a racial tradition or a national experience. But in its lowest terms it must be characterized by a capacity for assimilation. While America is built on a broad faith in mankind, it likewise gains its strength by a recognition of a needed training for citizenship. The Pilgrims were not content merely to reach our shores in safety, that they might live according to a sort of daily opportunism. They were building on firmer ground than that. Sixteen years after they landed at Plymouth, they and their associates founded Harvard College. They institutionalized their faith in education. That was their offering for the common good. It would not be unjust to ask of every alien: What will you contribute to the common good, once your were admitted through the gates of liberty? Our history is full of answers of which we might be justly proud. But of late, the answers have not been so readily or so eloquently given. Our country must cease to be regarded as a dumping ground. Which does not mean that it must deny the value of rich accretions drawn from the right kind of immigration.
Any such restriction, except as a necessary and momentary expediency, would assuredly paralyze our national vitality. But measured practically, it would be suicidal for us to let down the bars for the inflowing of cheap manhood, just as, commercially, it would be unsound for this country to allow her markets to be over flooded with cheap goods, the produce of cheap labor. There is no room for either the cheap man or the cheap goods. I do not fear the arrival of as many immigrants a year as shipping conditions or passport requirements can handle, provided they are of good character. But there is no room for the alien who turns toward America with the avowed intention of opposing government, with a set desire to teach destruction of government-which means not only enmity toward organized society, but toward every form of religion and so basic an institution as the home.
If we believe, as we do, in our political theory that the people are the guardians of government, we should not subject our government to the bitterness and hatred of those who have not been born in our tradition and are willing to yield an increase to the strength inherent in our institutions. American liberty is dependent on quality in citizenship. Our obligation is to maintain that citizenship at its best. We must have nothing to do with those who undermine it. The retroactive immigrant is a danger in our midst. His purpose is to tear down. There is no room for him here. He needs to be deported, not as a substitute for, but as a part of his punishment. We might avoid this danger were we insistent that the immigrant, before he leaves foreign soil, is temperamentally keyed for our national background. There are racial considerations too grave to be brushed aside for any sentimental reasons. Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With our races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides. Quality of mind and body suggests that observance of ethnic law is as great a necessity to a nation as immigration law.
We must remember that we have not only the present but the future to safeguard; our obligations extend even to generations yet unborn. The unassimilated alien child menaces our children, as the alien industrial worker, who has destruction rather than production in mind, menaces our industry. It is only when the alien adds vigor to our stock that he is wanted. The dead weight of alien accretion stifles national progress. But we have a hope that cannot be crushed; we have a background that we will not allow to be obliterated. The only acceptable immigrant is the one who can justify our faith in man by a constant revelation of the divine purpose of the Creator.
Figure 1: A 1921 political cartoon portrays America’s new immigration quotas, influenced by popular anti-immigrant and nativist sentiment stemming from World War I conflict. Source: Library of Congress
The Museum of the City of New York has an exhibit exploring social activist movements beginning in the 17th Century through the many movements of the present day. These movements and events are portrayed using artifacts, photographs, and audio and video presentations. This use of multiple sources brings the exhibit to life. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the exhibition is the interactive component, where users can select which different forms of activism they would like to learn more about using a tablet, such as immigration, labor conflicts, or gender inequality. This then takes them through the personal stories and accounts of various protests today. The important role social media plays in activism today is of particular interest as there is a screen displaying posts which use the #ActivistNewYork to show individual’s stories. This stresses the importance of people within these movements, which can be seen time and time again throughout the display where the many ways ordinary New Yorkers have affected and continue to shape their city. As you walk the room where the exhibit is located each movement is given a mural like space where its story and history is told. The sections go in chronological order and as you progress through the room you are moving from the past to the present. The fluidity and the connectedness of the exhibition make it easy to see and develop a greater understanding of the many ways these events and groups were connected.
The accompanying book, Activist
New York, progresses in a similar manner. It is split into six sections:
Colonial and Revolutionary New York, from 1624 to 1783, Seaport City from 1783
to 1865, Gilded Age to Progressive Era, from 1865 to 1918, Midcentury
Metropolis, from 1918 to 1960, The Sixties in New York, from 1960 to 1973, and
finally, Urban Crisis and Revival, from 1973 to 2011. These six sections are
then further divided into chapters, each focusing on a different form of
activism and with an additional segment or two on another influential topic
from the corresponding time period. For example, the chapter focusing on Puerto
Rican activism has an accompanying segment on Black Power and Asian American
Activism. These mini-sections help to provide a more complete context for the
time period as well as the main chapters events. Of additional importance with
the book is its detailed endnotes, credits and further readings sections as all
three provide the reader with a greater understanding of the information as
well as the opportunity to dive deeper into the history.
One of the most important and significant aspects of both the
exhibition and its companion book is its in depth coverage of history through
the lenses of the minority perspective. Rather than simply telling the events
with the accounts of those who history is traditionally written, namely the
white male Europeans, this collection drives to incorporate less heard, but no
less importance, voices. From Clara Lemlich, a young Jewish immigrant involved
in the Labor Movement, to Emma Goldman, a young Russian Jewish immigrant who
spoke to thousands in a protest in Union Square, to David Ruggles, a free black
man who helped free hundreds of African Americans prior to the end of slavery.
These perspectives are not ones we often get to hear and their inclusion in
these works has a lasting impact on anyone who reads the book or sees the
The supplemental activity sheets focus on ten forms of
activism explored in the exhibition and the book. Beginning with abolition in
the 1800s, students will examine the story of Elizabeth Jennings, who like Rosa
Parks a century later, refused to give up her seat simply because she was
black. The influence of anarchists within New York City is examined using a
speech from Ms. Goldman, an anarchist propaganda poster, a photograph of the
immigrant living conditions during this time and the New York State Criminal
Anarchy Law. The Labor Movement is assessed using a speech by Ms. Lemlich, a
political cartoon on the relationship between labor unions and employers.
Women’s Suffrage offers the 19th Amendment, an article by Harriet Stanton
Blatch explaining her reasons for being a suffragist, and an advertisement from
Margaret Sanger for her first clinic. Other sections focus on Civil Rights, Gay
pride activists, and student activism.
Activist New York and
the Abolitionist Movement
Directions: Read the background information on
the Abolitionist Movement in New York City. Analyze and review the documents,
then answer the questions that follow.
Background: Though slaves had been freed in New
York State by 1827, the African Americans who remained in the City were often
met with outright hostility and racism. They were forced out work by white
immigrants, prevented from attending schools, and often were denied access to
public transportation and places. The State Constitution of 1821, only allowed
Black men who owned $250 worth of property to vote, effectively preventing the
majority of Black men from doing so. While, slavery was still legal elsewhere
in the country, and many New Yorkers still supported it, not all its residents
believed in it. David Ruggles, a Black man born to free parents in Connecticut,
actively worked to help African Americans escape slavery in New York City.
Document A: The American Anti-Slavery Almanac
of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (1845)
After my arrival at New York, I said I felt like one who had escaped a
den of hungry lions. This state of mind, however, very soon subsided; and I
was again seized with a feeling of great insecurity and loneliness. I was yet
liable to be taken back, and subjected to all the tortures of slavery… Thank
Heaven, I remained but a short time in this distressed situation. I was
relieved from it by the humane hand of Mr. David Ruggles, whose vigilance,
kindness, and perseverance, I shall never forget… I had been in New York but
a few day, when Mr. Ruggles sought me out, and very kindly took me to his
boarding-house… Very soon after I went to Mr. Ruggles, he wished to know of
men where I wanted to go; as he deemed it unsafe for me to remain in New
York Tribune article by Horace Greeley (February 1855)
She (Elizabeth Jennings) got upon one
of the Company’s cars last summer, on the Sabbath, to ride to church. The
conductor undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full; when
that was shown to be false, he pretended the other passengers were displeased
at her presence; but [when] she insisted on her rights, he took hold of her
by force to expel her. She resisted. The conductor got her down on the
platform, jammed her bonnet, soiled her dress and injured her person. Quite a
crowd gathered, but she effectually resisted. Finally, after the car had gone
on further, with the aid of a policeman they succeed in removing her.
Doc D: Brooklyn Circuit Court Judge William
Rockwell in response to Jennings’s incident, 1855
Colored persons if sober, well
behaved and free from disease, had the same rights as others and could
neither be excluded by any rules of the Company, nor by force or violence. –
What message do you think the artist is conveying in Document
In Doc. B, how did Mr. Ruggles help Frederick Douglass?
Predict why you have not learned about Mr. Ruggles but have
learned about Douglass.
From Doc. C, what happened to Elizabeth Jennings? Why?
Does her story remind you of anything? If so, what?
Using Doc. D, what did the Judge decide in response to the
Is this significant? Why or why not?
What do these four documents and the background information
tell you about life in New York City for African Americans?
Directions: Read the background information on
Activist Harlem in New York City.
Analyze and review the documents, then answer the questions that follow.
Background: During World War I, black workers
began migrating to urban cities for the factory jobs created by the war. This was met by resistance from whites who
feared unemployment and the loss of their homogenous society. From 1910 to 1930, the number of African
Americans living in New York City increased from 91,709 to 327,700, when it
became the city with the most blacks worldwide.
The majority of the African Americans flocked to Harlem, which quickly
became central for African American issues.
Many who lived there dedicated their lives to improving the conditions
of blacks throughout the country. This
movement later became known as the Harlem Renaissance, where the image of the
“New Negro” was formed.
Doc A: National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People Annual Report (1917)
The National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People seeks to uplift the colored men and women of
this country by securing to them the full enjoyment of their rights as
citizens, justice in all courts, and equality of opportunity everywhere… It
believes in the upholding of the Constitution of the United States and its
amendments, in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln.
It upholds the doctrine of “all men up and no man down.” It abhors Negro crimes but still more the
conditions which breed crime, and most of all crimes committed by mobs in the
mockery of the law, or by individuals in the name of the law.
Doc B: Marcus Garvey, Explanation of the Objects of the Universal Negro Improvement
Fellow citizens of Africa, I greet
you in the name of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). You may ask, “what organizations is
that?” It is for me to inform you that
the UNIA is an organization that seeks to unite, into one solid body, the
four hundred million Negroes in the world.
To link up the fifty million Negros in the United States of America,
with the twenty million Negroes of the West Indies, the forty million Negroes
of South and Central American, with the two hundred and eight million Negros
of Africa, for the purpose of bettering our industrial, commercial,
educational, social, and political conditions… We of the UNIA are raising the
cry of “Africa for the Africans,” those at home and those abroad.
Doc C: 125th Street in Harlem
initially caused African Americans to move to cities?
importance did Harlem hold for African Americans during the 1900’s?
was the main goal of the NAACP from Document A?
is Abraham Lincoln mentioned in Document A?
is the main goal of the UNIA in Document B?
does “Africa for the Africans” mean?
are the messages of Document A and Document B similar? How are they different?
on the documents and your previous knowledge, which group was more successful,
the NAACP or the UNIA?
the picture in Document C. Use at least
five details in your response.
why the people are gathered in the photo.
Activism in New York:
Directions: Read the background information on
anarchism in New York City. Analyze and
review the documents, then answer the questions that follow.
Background: In 19th Century Europe, in response
to the social unrest caused by the Industrial Revolution, anarchism
emerged. Its core belief was that only
when workers rose up against their government and abolished it completely,
could they escape their lives of poverty.
In its place they wanted to create a free and classless society. They were often in conflict with socialists,
as they are argued a government run by the working class needed to come before
a classless society, though both leftist groups shared the same enemy in
capitalism. Both anarchists and
socialists within New York City were either immigrants from Europe or their
children, many of whom left Europe because of their radical views. The poor living and working conditions for
immigrants convinced many of them that a revolution was needed in New York City
Emma Goldman, a young Russian Jewish immigrant, speaking to crowd at
Union Square (August 21, 1893)
“Men and women, do you not realize
that the State is the worst enemy you have?
It is a machine that crushes you in order to maintain the ruling
class, your masters… Fifth Avenue is laid in gold, every mansion a citadel (fortress) of money and power. Yet there you stand, a giant, starved and
fettered (restrained), shorn of his
strength… They will go on robbing you… unless you wake up, unless you become
daring enough to demand your rights.
Well, then, demonstrate before the palaces of the rich; demand work. If they do not give you work, demand
bread. If they deny you both, take
bread. It is your sacred right!”
Doc C: New York Criminal Anarchy Law of 1902
Sec. 160. Criminal Anarchy Defined.
Criminal anarchy is the doctrine that organized government should be
overthrown by force or violence, or by assassination of the executive head or
of any of the executive officials of government, or by an unlawful
means. The advocacy of such doctrine
either by word of mouth or writing is a felony.
were the anarchists in New York City?
Doc. A, who is Emma Goldman? Is this
significant? Why or why not?
Doc. A, what rights does Emma Goldman say the people are being denied? What does she say they should do?
the poster in Doc. B. List at least five
message do you think the author is trying to convey in Doc. B?
is does the law in Doc. C do?
is this significant? What does it tell
you about the government during this time?
Activism in New York: Gay Rights
Directions: Read the background information on
gay rights in New York City. Analyze and
review the documents, then answer the questions that follow.
Background: On June 28, 1969, police officers
raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. The Inn’s selling of alcohol without a liquor
license was the official reason behind the raid, but the patrons of the club
believed the real motivation was their sexual orientation. In response to the raid a riot broke out, and
for the next four nights similar protests took place. “Stonewall” electrified the gay and lesbian
communities of New York and marked a turning point in the gay rights
campaign. Prior to this gay people lived
in fear of their secret coming out, as they often faced harassment, violence
and even job loss when they came out.
Various gay and lesbian organizations were established to further the
gay rights cause; often using Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights movement as
a guide, though some used more radical means.
Doc A: 3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by
Bars – But They Visit Four Before Being Refused Service, in a Test of State
Liquor Authority (S.L.A.) Rules – By Thomas A. Johnson, The New York Times (April 22, 1966)
Three homosexuals, intent upon challenging State Liquor Authority regulations cited by some bartenders in refusing to sell liquor to sexual deviates, met with some difficulty yesterday finding a bar that would deny them service. The three, who were officials of the Mattachine Society, a group dedicated to the improvement of the status of homosexuals, found their first testing establishment closed. Then they found willing service in two other places, even after advising the managers that they were homosexuals. But, in their fourth call, when they told the bartender they were homosexuals, he refused to serve them… Informed of the incident, the S.L.A.’s chief executive officer said that regulations leave service to the discretion of the management and that they do not discriminate against homosexuals. He said, however, that bartenders had the right to refuse service if a customer is not orderly…
Doc B: 4 Policemen Hurt in ‘Village’
Raid – Melee (Riot) Near Sheridan Square Follows Action at Bar – The New York
Times (June 29, 1969)
Hundreds of young men went on a rampage in Greenwich Village shortly after 3 AM yesterday after a force of plainclothes men raided a bar that the police said was well-known for its homosexual clientele. Thirteen persons were arrested and four policemen injured. The young men threw bricks, bottles, garbage, pennies and a parking meter at the policemen, who had a search warrant authorizing them in investigate reports that liquor was sold illegally at the bar, the Stonewall Inn, just off Sheridan Square. Deputy Inspector Pine said that a large crowd formed in the square after being evicted from the bar. Police reinforcements were sent to the area to hold off the crowd…. The police estimated that 200 young men had been expelled from the bar. The crowd grew close to 400 during the melee, which lasted about 45 minutes. … The raid was one of the three held on Village bars in the last two weeks. Charges against the 13 who were arrested ranged from harassment and resisting arrest to disorderly conduct.
Doc C: Christopher Street Rally
was Stonewall? What impact did it have
on New York City’s gay community?
is the Mattachine Society from Doc. A?
were the men refused service in Doc. A?
did the men go on a “rampage” in Doc. B?
you think this is a biased account of the event in Doc. B? Why or why not?
are gay men portrayed in the newspaper articles from Doc. A and Doc. B?
would you describe the people in the picture from Doc. C?
picture in Doc. C is from the first Gay Pride Parade in New York City, why do
you think 1970 was the first year?
the poster from Doc. D. What do you think the artist is trying to convey?
in New York: Labor Movement
Directions: Read the background information on
the Labor Movement in New York City.
Analyze and review the documents, then answer the questions that follow.
Garment production was the largest manufacturing business in New York City by
the early 1900’s and it was fueled by the city’s immigrant population. The work
was typically characterized by unsafe and unclean conditions, low pay, long
hours and abusive bosses. Workers wanted
to create unions to combat these poor working conditions, but employers were
resistant to them. Despite this, unions
were formed by the 19th Century. With
the relative success of the “Uprising of 20,000,” a garment worker’s strike in
1909, the city’s labor movement exploded.
Within the next four years, labor unions increased from 30,000 to
Doc A : Clara Lemlich, a 23-year-old
immigrant garment worker speaking in Yiddish from stage in Manhattan (November
“I am a working girl. One of those who are on strike against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in general terms. What we are here for is to decide whether we shall strike or shall not strike. I offer a resolution that a general strike be declared now. If I turn traitor to the cause I now pledge, may this hand wither from the arm I now raise.” –
Doc C: Public Indifference Held Responsible – Voters Should Demand Better Fire Protection, Says Dr. Anna Shaw at Protest Meeting. “DOLLARS AGAINST A LIFE” The New York Times (April 1, 1911)
A mass meeting of protest at the conditions which made possible the Washington Place fire disaster a week ago today was held at Cooper Union last night… Stretched where everyone could see was a flaring banner which bore the legend:
Nov. 26 – Twenty-five women killed in Newark factory fire. March 25- One hundred and thirty women killed in Triangle fire. Locked doors, overcrowding, inadequate fire escapes. The women could not, the voters did not, alter these conditions. We demand for all women the right to protect themselves – … “Well it all comes right down to dollars and cents against a life,” Fire Chief Croker was quoted as saying, “that is the bottom of the entire thing. Mr. Owner will come and say to the Fire Department: ‘If you compel us to do this or that we will have to close up the factory; we cannot afford to do it.’ It comes right down to dollars and cents against human lives no matter which way you look at it.”
is factory work described during the early 1900s?
were unions created? Why did employers
not want unions?
Doc. A, to what cause does Clara Lemlich pledge?
do you notice about the description of Clara Lemlich? Why is this significant?
the political cartoon in Doc. B. Provide
at least five details.
message do you think the artist is trying to convey in Doc. B?
happened in the Washington Place fire from Doc. C?
is blamed for the fire?
in New York: Women’s Suffrage
Directions: Read the background information
on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign in New York City. Analyze and review the documents, then answer
the questions that follow.
Background: Beginning in the 1860s, New York
City became the center for Women’s Suffrage.
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two of the movement’s most
prominent leaders, took up residence in the city during this time. Later in the 19th Century, it
became the center for the “New Woman,” a popular phrase used to describe the
young middle and upper-class women who began attending college and later
obtained careers; something previously denied to their mothers. This newfound education and career achievements
led many women to believe they were entitled to vote and become more
politically active. In the early 1900s
the National American Woman Suffrage Association moved its headquarters to New
York City as well.
Doc A: Opinions of Prominent Women –
Leaders in the Movement Tell Why They are in Favor of Equal Rights– The
New York Times (February 21, 1909)
Mrs. Harriot Stanton Blatch. – Why am I a suffragist? Because women are living under the conditions of the twentieth century. When they were spinning or weaving, teaching and nursing in their own homes, with no examining boards, factory inspectors, or school officers to interfere, a male aristocracy was not so unjust a political system as it is today. Women lived then in a sort of republic of their own making. But with health boards after us, our children snatched from our proverbial knee by compulsory school laws, and every means of creating wealth stolen from the chimney corner, and placed in the business world, women’s concerns have become the State’s concerns…Men cannot feel the new needs of women, and therefore cannot safely assume to be their political sponsors.
Doc C: 19th Amendment: Women’s Right to Vote (1920)
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
What was the “New Woman?”
Why do you think New York City was the home of the Women’s Suffrage Movement?
In Doc. A, why is Ms. Blatch a suffragist?
Why are women’s concerns now the State’s concerns from Doc. A?
Where are the women from Doc. B protesting? Why there?
Do you think the location of the picture had more of an impact than protests elsewhere? Why or why not?
What does the 19th Amendment from Doc. C guarantee?
Are you surprised by the year? Why or why not?
What three languages is the poster from Doc. D written is? Why?
The poster from Doc. D was created by Margaret Sanger. What is she discussing? What does this have to do with Women’s Suffrage?
Activism in New York:
Occupy Wall Street
Directions: Read the background information
on Occupy Wall Street. Analyze and
review the documents, then answer the questions that follow.
Background: The Depression of 2008 was set
off by many of the world’s richest banks selling billions of dollars in risky
investments, including home mortgages which had been sold to Americans. Borrowers were unable to pay back their loans
and the impact from their defaults was felt throughout the economy. This resulted in the near collapse, or
collapse, of many of the U.S.’s financial institutions, the freezing of credit
and economic problems throughout the world.
The economic conditions were eventually stabilized, but trillions of
dollars were needed to “bail out” the banks.
Unemployment continued to rise, thousands lost their homes, but bank
executives continued to profit. Wall
Street, New York, had been seen as the financial capital of America since the
1830’s, and as such it became the center of the protests in 2011.
Doc A: Declaration of the Occupation of
New York City (September 29, 2011)
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know what we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their rights and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people on the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceable assembled here, as is our right to let these facts be known. They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosures process, despite not having the original mortgage. They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity (freedom), continue to give Executives exorbitant (excessive) bonuses. They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right…
Doc C: A Day of Protests as Occupy Movement Marks Two-Month Milestone by Katharine Q. Seelye – The New York Times (November 17, 2011) Protesters across the country demonstrated en masse Thursday, snarling rush-hour traffic in several major cities and taking aim at banks as part of the national “day of action” to mark the two-month milestone of the Occupy Wall Street movement. While thousands of protestors clogged the streets in New York and more than 175 people were arrested in clashes with the police, demonstrators elsewhere in the country were largely peaceful… Union workers, students, unemployed people and local residents joined the crowds in many cities, adding to a core of Occupy protesters… Activists decried banking practices, called for more jobs and demanded a narrowing of the divide between the richest 1 percent of the population and the other 99 percent.
was Wall Street chosen as the location for the protest?
economic conditions lead to the Occupy Wall Street Movement?
Doc. A, what does the Declaration cite as the facts for the Occupation?
the document in Doc. A resemble any other document you have read?
the picture in Doc B. Use at least five
details in your response.
does the sign say 99% in Doc. B?
Doc. C, who joined the protest? Why do
you think these groups of people joined?
does the New York Times say the activists want in Doc. C?
the political cartoon in Doc. D. Use at
least five details in your response.
message do you think the artist is trying to convey in Doc. D?
in New York: New Housing Activists
Directions: Read the background information on
new housing activists in New York City.
Analyze and review the documents, then answer the questions that follow.
Background: During the late 1960’s and 1970’s
dozens of community organizations were created to combat the “urban
crisis.” Entire neighborhoods were near
collapse in the face of crime, drug addiction, unemployment and housing abandonment
which had been going on for years. The
thousands of African Americans and Puerto Ricans who had moved to New York
after World War II, were caught between two government programs. The first, “redlining,” kept them from
borrowing money to upgrade or buy homes in either their area or middle-class
areas as banks viewed them as a risk to residential security. The second, was Urban Renewal, where powerful
people used federal funds to construct new highways, art centers and apartment
complexes without care of the existing neighborhoods. The people who were crowded out by these new
buildings were not given adequate housing and thus were forced into the
slums. When the city government ran out
of money in 1975, the poorest areas were virtually abandoned. In response, the residents of these areas
banded together to save their areas.
Document A: Bronx Housing Devastation Found Slowing Substantially by David W. Dunlap – The New York Times (March 22, 1982) New York City officials and neighborhood activists say they are witnessing a marked slowing of the wholesale devastation that plagued the Bronx in the 1970’s. The burning and abandonment that cut a wide swath from south to north through the borough have not stopped. But the neighborhoods that are now on the northern edges of the devastated areas show new signs of stability, officials say. Among the encouraging factors, they say, are that hundreds of buildings are being rehabilitated, that private money has been successfully enlist in the effort and that tenants and whole communities have organized to fight on behalf of their buildings and neighborhoods… If this stability – reflected by inhabitants clinging more tenaciously to their buildings and neighborhoods – continues, the officials said, it may be due to the simple economic fact that many residents have no choice but to stay put.
was the “urban crisis?”
was the government response to the crisis?
What was the residents’ response?
the picture. Use at least five details
in your response.
reasons does the author provide for the slowing down of the “devastation” of
does the author of Doc. D say, “the residents have no choice but to stay put?”
changes does the author see in the Bronx?
Activism in New York:
Directions: Read the background information on
protests today in New York City. Analyze
and review the documents, then answer the questions that follow.
Background: After the 2011 Occupy Wall Street
protest, activism has continued to play an important role in New York City. These protests have taken on new strategies,
namely social media, in addition to the familiar ones used throughout New
York’s history. Many issues have
centered around race, from the Black Lives Matter protest to “Stop and Frisk,”
and the statue debate. The successful
push for same-sex marriage in 2015, advocating for AIDS, the protection of
undocumented immigrants and the Women’s March are additional examples from
recent years, all showing New York City’s lasting impact for activists and
change throughout time.
Doc A: New Yorkers Rediscover Activism in the Trump Presidency Era by Gina Bellfante – The New York Times (January 20, 2017): The “movement,” of course is Trump resistance, which is essentially a movement against everything – the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, climate-change denial, the omnibus threats to the pursuit of equality (racial, economic, gender), a general erosion of civility, modesty, nuance, logic. How to counter it all? Even if the answer to that question is still taking shape, the intensity to fight back, made evident in part by the Women’s March on Washington taking place on Saturday, is producing what will probably turn out to be one of the most fertile periods of activism on the left in decades. Right now, in New York City, it is possible to join in an act of opposition to the New World Order nearly every day… The new wave of activism taking hold in New York and perhaps around the country owes a debt to the Occupy Wall Street movement even as its success continues to be debated… It created a foundation upon which politicians and causes have flourished, and build, and demanded power. And power, in the words of Frederick Douglass, concedes nothing without a demand.
Doc D: “Why Demonstrating is Good for Kids,” by Lisa Damour – The New York Times (March 12, 2018) Participating in political activism may be good for our teenagers, according to a new research report. The study, published in January in the journal of Child Development, found that late adolescents and young adults who voted, volunteered or engaged in activism ultimately went further in school and had higher incomes than those who did not mobilize for political or social change… Of course, correlation does not prove causation, but the study makes a case for the benefits of civic engagement… The study’s lead author said that “having meaningful opportunities to volunteer or be involved in activism may change how young people think about themselves or their possibilities for the future.” The research is especially timely as American students consider whether to participate in the National School Walkout.
are three recent protests in New York City?
you participate in any forms of activism?
Why or why not?
do you think New York City continues to be central for many protests?