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09/29/21 SJ Ceremony of Apology to Chinese Immigrants and their Descendants

October 01, 2021 5:02 PM | Elyse Wong (Administrator)

CHCP Advisory Board Member/Historian Connie Young Yu, CHCP Trustee/Co-Founder Gerrye Wong, Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilmember Raul Peralez, County Supervisor Otto Lee, and State Assemblymember Evan Low display the Resolution of Apology.

On September 29th, the city of San Jose held a historic ceremony to commemorate the adoption of a resolution that was passed on September 28th, apologizing to Chinese immigrants and their descendants for past acts of injustice and discrimination.

The city had five Chinatowns with the largest one, the Second Market Street Chinatown, built in 1872 where the former Fairmont Hotel (now Signia by Hilton) is located in downtown San Jose. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the nation's most restrictive immigration bill prohibiting all Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States and preventing Chinese from becoming citizens. Five years later, the San Jose City Council declared the Second Market Street Chinatown a public nuisance and unanimously approved an order to remove it to make way for a new City Hall. Before officials acted, the thriving Chinatown was burned down by arsonists, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and displacing about 1,400 people.

Click to enlarge

In 1987, a plaque commemorating the centennial of the burning of the Second Market Street Chinatown was installed at the former Fairmont Hotel (now Signia by Hilton) in downtown San Jose, but no formal resolution of apology was issued at that time. 

This ceremony is the formal apology by the city to the public for its 1887 racist order that helped incite the arsonists to burn down Chinatown. The recording of this historic ceremony can be viewed below. 

Table of Contents for the recording:

 Start Time  Speaker
 00:55 Raul Peralez, SJ District 3 Councilmember
09:53 Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose
25:20 Connie Young Yu, CHCP Advisory Board Member & Historian
35:42 Gerrye Wong, CHCP Trustee & Co-Founder
42:00 Otto Lee, County of Santa Clara Supervisor 
46:40 Evan Low, California State Assemblymember
52:40 Raul Peralez, SJ District 3 Councilmember - final remarks 
53:35 CHCP Dragon and Lion Dance

The video below is a consolidation of San Francisco Bay Area evening news clips from Fox, CBS, NBC, and KTSF that covered the San Jose ceremony of apology.

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