Y. C. Hong: Advocate for Chinese-American Inclusion

Nov. 21, 2015Mar. 22, 2016
Library West Hall

The name You Chung (“Y.C.”) Hong still elicits respect and pride among longtime residents of Los Angeles’ Chinatown. As one of the first Chinese Americans admitted to the State Bar of California, Y.C. Hong was a major figure in the Los Angeles Chinese community during the period of the Chinese Exclusion Act, a federal law in effect from 1882 to 1943 that prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States.

A new exhibition opening this fall examines the key role Hong played as an immigration lawyer, civic leader, and active proponent for equal rights in early 20th-century Los Angeles. “Y.C. Hong: Advocate for Chinese-American Inclusion” opens Nov. 21 in the West Hall of the Library and continues through March 21. 2016.

Drawn from The Huntington’s You Chung Hong Family Papers, acquired in 2006, this exhibition is the first opportunity for the public to get a deeper sense of the life of this extraordinary figure in Chinese-American history, through a display of some 75 items, including historical documents, correspondence, photographs, maps, and ledgers.

The exhibition will also provide visitors with insight into the early history of the Chinese experience in California, in part through rare photographs from the Library’s holdings of Chinese miners during the California Gold Rush and laborers on the transcontinental railroad.

Regarded as one of the leading authorities on Chinese immigration, Hong gave testimony in Washington, D.C., on several occasions at congressional and presidential commission hearings. His extensive civil and political engagement included his tenure as president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, and he met with political figures such as Ronald Reagan, when Reagan was governor of California, and Soong May-ling, the wife of Chiang Kai-Shek, president of the Republic of China. In addition, Hong was one of the founding members of New Chinatown in Los Angeles, which he helped build after Old Chinatown was razed to make way for Union Station.

“During Hong’s lifetime, he facilitated and worked on at least 7,000 immigration cases,” said Li Wei Yang, curator of Western American History at The Huntington and curator of the exhibition. “The exhibition will give visitors a rare and comprehensive view of the life and career of a legendary lawyer who advocated relentlessly on behalf of Chinese Americans striving to achieve the American dream.”

The Los Angeles-based law firm Paul Hastings LLP is the corporate sponsor of this exhibition. Additional support is provided by the Robert F. Erburu Exhibition Endowment Fund.