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ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN
HISTORICAL TIMELINE DETAILS (1980 to 1989)

Our victories, obstacles and leaders


Discover additional specific info on the many links (outlined in "red" or "blue") listed below


1980
CORRECT DEFINITION APPROVED

National Convention of American Newspaper Guild decides to stop using the word "Jap."  

1980
JAPANESE ARE SWORN AS CITIZENS
 

1980
APA ORGANIZATION IS FORMED

National Conference of the Asian/Pacific American Educational Equity Project in Washington, D.C., to form national network of Asian and Pacific women's organizations.

1980
PHILIPPINE FESTIVAL

First Philippine Festival
of the Arts begins in New York City

1981
US GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZE INTERNMENT INJUSTICE
 

Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (set up by Congress) holds hearings across the country and concludes the internment was a "grave injustice" and that Executive Order 9066 resulted from "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership."

1981
MAYA LIN DESIGNS THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL
 

While still an architecture student at Yale University, Lin entered a national design competition for the proposed Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be built in Washington D.C. Her entry was selected from 1400 others when she was only 21 years old. The design featured two highly polished walls of black granite set in a "V" shape inscribed with the names of almost 58,000 dead or missing veterans of the Vietnam war. Lim's design was chosen from 1,420 entries.

The Vietnam veteran sponsors set four major criteria for the design. It must: (1) be reflective and contemplative in character, (2) harmonize with its surroundings, especially the neighboring national memorials, (3) contain the names of all who died or remain missing, and (4) make no political statement about the war.

Ms. Lin accomplished all of this. She created a park within a park - a quiet protected place that harmonized with the overall plan of Constitution Gardens. She chose polished black granite for the walls -- its mirror-like surface reflects the images of the surrounding trees, lawns, and monuments. The walls point to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial to bring the memorial into historical context. The names are inscribed in chronological order from the date of casualty in order to present the war as a series of individual human sacrifices and give each name its own place in history. Ms. Lin describes the wall: "Walking into this grassy site contained by the walls of the memorial, we can barely make out the carved names upon the memorial's walls. These names, seemingly infinite in number, convey the sense of overwhelming numbers, while unifying these individuals into a whole."

1982 
CHOL SOO LEE IS ACQUITTED

After spending nine years in prison for a killing he did not commit, Korean immigrant
Chol Soo Lee was acquitted by a San Francisco jury.

1982 
VINCENT CHIN IS KILLED!

A young draftsman named
Vincent Chin was attending his bachelor party at a suburban Detroit strip club called Fancy Pants. With the party well underway, Ronald Ebens, a white auto worker, began yelling racial slurs across the bar. "It's because of you little motherf*ckers that we're out of work," witnesses later remembered Ebens yelling at Chin.

Chin struck Ebens and a fight ensued. Ebens' stepson, Michael Nitz - who had been recently laid off from his job at an auto plant - jumped in. But it was soon broken up by a parking attendant. Chin and his friends left the bar and went their separate ways. Twenty minutes later, Ebens and Nitz caught up with Chin in front of a fast-food restaurant. Ebens grabbed a baseball bat and delivered a blow to Chin's leg. Nitz held the wounded Chin while Ebens struck his head with the bat, bashing in his skull.

Before he slipped into a coma, Chin murmured to a friend, "It's not fair." Four days later - and five days before his wedding - Chin died as a result of the injuries.

Ebens and Nitz were charged with and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. For this, they each received a sentence of three years probation and a $3,000 fine. Later, federal civil-rights cases brought against the two defendants were appealed, and the juries acquitted each of them. Neither served a jail sentence. For additional information, please visit our article on Vincent Chin by clicking HERE.

1982
NAAAP IS FORMED
 

The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), is a non-profit 501(c)(3), all-volunteer organization whose mission is to promote the personal and professional development of the Asian American community.

1983
PETITONS TO OVERTURN WWII EVACUATION ORDERS

Fred Korematsu, Min Yasui, and Gordon Hirabayashi file petitions to overturn their World War II convictions for violating the curfew and evacuation orders.

On Nov. 10, 1983, Patel ruled from the bench in the ceremonial courtroom she had opened to accommodate the crowds. She exonerated Korematsu and lambasted the government, which she said had based its decisions on "unsubstantiated facts, distortions and the (opinions) of one military commander whose views were seriously tainted by racism."

In her written opinion the following spring, Patel said: "As a historical precedent, it stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity, our institutions must be vigilant in protecting our constitutional guarantees...that in times of distress, the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability."

The ruling helped win a presidential apology and monetary redress for former internees.

But Patel's decision didn't take Korematsu vs. United States off the books, where, as dissenting Justice Robert Jackson had written in the original case, the court's validation of military orders "...lies about like a loaded weapon."

1983 
KOREAN AMERICAN COALITION IS FORMED

The Korean American Coalition
(KAC) is a non-profit, non-partisan community advocacy organization. Established in 1983, KAC's mission is to facilitate the Korean American community's participation in civic, legislative, and community affairs, and encourage the Korean American community to contribute and become an integral part of the broader American society.

1983
HATE CRIME VS. VIETNAMESE STUDENT!

Vietnamese high school student Thong Huynh is stabbed to death in Davis, Calif., by a white student after being taunted by a group of whites. The defendant, a minor, is convicted of manslaughter.

1984
FIRST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IN NYC'S CHINATOWN

Jesse Jackson becomes the 1st presidential candidate to visit New York City's Chinatown.  

1984 
FRED KOREMATSU

Judge June Patel vacates the conviction of
Fred Korematsu who challenged the Japanese American evacuation during WWII. In other words - In the Korematsu's case, the court hearing the coram nobis appeal found that in his original trial the government withheld and distorted evidence, leading to his conviction.

FYI - "CORAM NOBIS - In our presence; before us. The office of "writ of coram nobis" is to bring attention of court to, and obtain relief from errors of fact, such as a valid defense existing in facts of case, but which, without negligence on defendant's part, was not made, either through duress or fraud or excusable mistake, where facts did not appear on face of record, and were such as, if known in season, would have prevented rendition of the judgment questioned. The essence of coram nobis is that it is addressed to the very court which renders the judgment in which injustice is alleged to have been done, in contrast to appeals or review directed to another court; the words "coram nobis", meaning "our court," as compared to the common-law writ of coram vobis," meaning "your court," clearly point this up."

1985
ELLISON ONIZUKA: THE 1ST ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN ASTRONAUT
As an Air Force officer on detached duty with NASA, Onizuka was chosen to serve on the first dedicated Department of Defense classified space shuttle mission. He served as the mission specialist on STS-51-C from January 24-27, 1985 on the Discovery orbiter. The Challenger flight was his second Shuttle mission. He (along with Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, and Judy Resnik died on January 28, 1986 when NASA's Challenger exploded 1 min. 13 sec. after launch. It was the United States' first in-flight tragedy.

The STS-51L was the 25th mission of the Space Shuttle Program, and the tenth of Space Shuttle Orbiter Challenger. Challenger, and her crew of seven, was launched at 11:38am EST from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39 Pad B. Approximately 73 seconds later, Challenger was destroyed as a result of aerodynamic stress, killing all onboard. The cause was rooted in the history of the Space Shuttle Program: The o-rings on the solid rocket boosters could not properly seal at cold temperatures.

Ellison Shoji Onizuka (June 24, 1946-January 28, 1986) was born and raised on Kona, Hawaii. He received a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1968 and a Masters Degree in 1969 from the University of Colorado. The following year, he joined the U.S. Air Force and became a flight engineer. Onizuka later attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California and was a test pilot. He has flown over 1700 hours on 43 different aircraft.

In 1978, he was selected by NASA for the astronaut program in 1978. He has spent over 72 hours in space on two spaceflights. Onizuka became the first Asian-American in space aboard Mission 51-C in 1985. This was a Department of Defense mission. Onizuka was killed in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.

Out of the seven astronauts' families, Colonel Onizuka's widow, Lorna Onizuka, was the only survivor who did not file a lawsuit against Morton Thiokol, the company which built the solid rocket booster (the one that caused the explosion) for the death of her husband. Her explanation was short and simple when the press querried her motive. Her husband chose a career as a pilot. He piloted an experimental spacecraft (the Challenger) and he died in the line of duty. It was not Morton Thiokol's fault, in her opinion and she was sure her late husband would not want her to blame anyone. He chose to live by the sword and he proudly died by the sword.

1985 
HAING NGOR WINS AN OSCAR
Haing S. Ngor wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the film "The Killing Fields" for playing the role of Dith Pran, who tried to stop the holocaust in Cambodia.

1985 
CHARLES NG & LEONARD LAKE - SERIAL KILLERS
 

On June 2, 1985, an Asian man later identified as Charles Ng was seen shoplifting in San Francisco. He fled by the time police arrived, but Leonard Lake, who was with him, was arrested when his car was searched and found to contain a pistol that was illegally equipped with a silencer.

Charles Ng, with his buddy Leonard Lake, tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of men, women and children at Lake's Wilseyville, California rural home that had been equipped with a fortified bunker which apparently was used solely as a holding cell for their victims.

Law enforcement authorities believe that up to twenty-five people were murdered by the pair, but only officially recovered twelve bodies. Detectives found videotapes of these two people torturing and sexually abusing their victims among the evidence found on the property.

In true "he-man" fashion, Ng ran away to Canada to avoid prosecution, and attempted to delay his trial proceedings when he was finally extradited back to the U.S. Convicted of eleven murders in 1999.

1985
IRENE NATIVIDAD - 1ST ASIAN PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL ORG.
 

Irene Natividad became the first Asian to be voted as president of a national political organization in the US - the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC). She was also chosen as one of the "100 Most Powerful Women in America" by Ladies Home Journal. Her editorials have appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and many other publications.

1986
1ST SURBURBAN CHINATOWN IN THE US
 

Monterey Park, a small city east of Los Angeles, is identified as the first suburban Chinatown in the U.S.. Center of activity for Chinese moves to San Gabriel Valley. It's the start of the immigration eastward of the Chinese communities as it starts in Monterey Park, proceeded to San Gabriel and has extended to areas such as City of Industry, West Covina, Hacienda Heights, Roland Heights and Puente Hills.

1986
FIRST MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT
 

The first recorded meeting of a United States President with a national Asian American organization. The Asian American Voters Coalition met with President Reagan on January 9, 1986.

1986
PROTESTS IN BOSTON
 

1987 
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AGREE TO REPARATIONS
 

1987
JAPANESE AMERICAN EXHIBIT AT THE SMITHSONIAN
The Japanese American Exhibit opened at the
Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.  

1987
PROTESTS VS SEGRATION
 

100 Latino and SE Asian parents protest against crowded, substandard schools, and sued for unconstitutional segregation and denial of equal education opportunity.

1987
IVY LEAGUE ASU FORMED
First Ivy League Asian American Studies program established at Cornell U, with $100,000 budget and staff of three.  

1987
ANTI-ASIAN HATE ATTACKS IN NEW JERSEY
 

South Asian Navroze Mody is murdered in Hoboken, N.J. by "dotbusters," as part of a series of organized hate attacks designed to drive South Asians out of the area.

1988
AMERICAN HOMECOMING ACT
 

The U.S. Senate votes 69% to 27 to support redress for Japanese Americans. American Homecoming Act allows children in Vietnam born of American fathers to emigrate to the U.S.

1988
AMERICAN HOMECOMING ACT
 

The Friends of the Museum of Chinese American History is formed with representatives from El Pueblo, the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California and the local community.

1988
AMERICAN HOMECOMING ACT
 

On August 10, 1988, President Reagan signed a measure providing $20,000 payments to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.

1989
GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS TO JAPANESE AMERICANS INTERNED

The American Army, fearing a Japanese invasion, gained permission under the War Relocation Authority to forcefully move 120,000 people to internment camps. Most of these prisoners were American citizens. Some were released after July of 1943 after proving their loyalty to the United States, but most were detained until December of 1944. The last camp closed in 1946. Over two centuries later, (through the " Reparations Bill" that was passed through Congress and signed into law by President Bush) the government issued $20,000 and a formal apology to each of the surviving WWII internees of all the camps. Read also about the National Japanese American Memorial in Hawaii that is being built in honor/memory of this tragic time in IS history. U.S. reaches agreement with Vietnam to allow political prisoners to emigrate to the U.S.

1989
COALITION OF ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICANS IS FOUNDED

The Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans was organized to: promote cooperation and understanding among people of Asian Pacific American descent and among their representative organizations; foster friendship among Americans of Asian Pacific descent and others in the community; promote, represent, and advocate the interests of Asian Pacific American communities; and promote education and awareness of Asian Pacific American heritage. Now in its 20th year, CAPA still celebrates the cultural richness and diversity of the Asian Pacific American community and its contributions to the community at large.

1989 
DAVID HENRY HWANG'S M.BUTTERFLY WINS A TONY AWARD

M. Butterfly, a thrilling drama of politics, gender and culture clashes between the East and the West, was Hwang's Broadway debut in 1988. It has been made into a
movie and is widely recognized as a masterpiece of theatre. Hwang grew up in Los Angeles during the late 60's and started to write down his family history when he was eleven. His family history is the source for his more recent play, Golden Child. Hwang now lives in New York with his wife and 10-month old son.

1989
JULIA CHANG BLOCH - 1ST ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN AMBASSADOR
 

Julia Chang Bloch's extensive international political career began with the Peace Corps in 1964 where she taught English as a second language in Manila. Some of her most important work came when she worked for the Agency for International Development (AID). At AID, she reviewed the Somalia refugee program and worked with the State Department. From 1989-1993 Bloch was appointed by George Bush to serve as the US Ambassador to Nepal where she oversaw Nepal's transition to democracy and initiated and directed the Democracy Program and Initiative in support of the consolidation of democracy in Nepal.

1989
ASIAN AMERICANS IN SPORTS AND MOVIES
 

Michael Chang wins tennis' French Open, becoming the first Asian American male to win a Grand Slam T ournament. Amuy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club" spends weeks on the New York Times best sellers' list and later becomes a hit film with an Asian American All Star cast.

1989
ANTI ASIAN AMERICAN VIOLENCE

Five Southeast Asian grammar school children are killed in a Stockton schoolyard. 300 Samoans march in Carson to protest the brutal beating of members of the Dole family by fifty Cerritos deputies. Thirty-five people were taken into custody and booked on "suspicion of unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and battery on peace officers".

1989
ANTI ASIAN AMERICAN LAWS

Vietnamese Fishermen's Association of America brought a suit to stop the Coast Guard from selective enforcement of the Jones Act which prohibits non-citizens from owning or operating large boats in US waters.

1989
SOUTHEAST ASIAN CHILDREN ARE KILLED BY WHITE GUNMAN!

Patrick Purdy fires 105 rounds from an assault rifle at students in an elementary schoolyard in Stockton, Calif. in January, killing five Southeast Asian children before shooting himself. Purdy reportedly blamed all minorities for his failings.

1989 
HATE CRIME SHOOTING!

Ming Hai Jim Loo, a Chinese American, is shot outside a pool hall in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29. His two white assailants, Lloyd and Robert Piche, allegedly shouted: We shouldn't put up with Vietnamese in our country. Robert Piche is sentenced to 37 years behind bars; Lloyd's sentence is 4 years.

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