Chinese in America endured abuse and discrimination in the late 19th century, but they had a leader and a fighter in Wong Chin Foo (1847–1898), whose story is a forgotten chapter in the struggle for equal rights in America. The first to use the term “Chinese American ” – it was the name he gave to New York’s first Chinese-language newspaper – Wong defended his compatriots against malicious scapegoating and urged them to become Americanized to win their rights. A trailblazer and a born showman who proclaimed himself China’s first Confucian missionary to the United States, he founded America’s first association of Chinese voters in New York and testified before Congress to get laws that denied them citizenship repealed. Wong challenged Americans to live up to the principles they freely espoused but failed to apply to the Chinese in their midst. This evocative biography is the first book-length account of the life and times of one of America’s most famous Chinese—and one of its earliest campaigners for racial equality. Join the National Committee and the Museum for Chinese in America for a conversation with Scott Seligman author of the new book The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo, on Thursday, June 13. The discussion will be moderated by Andrew Hsiao.

About the Author:

Scott D. Seligman is a writer, a historian, a genealogist, a retired corporate executive and a career “China hand.” He holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University with distinction in American civilization and a master’s degree from Harvard University. Fluent in Mandarin and conversant in Cantonese, he lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China for eight years and reads and writes Chinese. He has worked as a legislative assistant to a member of the U.S. Congress, lobbied the Chinese government on behalf of American business, managed a multinational public relations agency in China and served as spokesperson and communications director for a Fortune 50 company. He is the author of Three Tough Chinamen, Chinese Business Etiquette, and Dealing with the Chinese, and co-author of the best-selling Cultural Revolution Cookbook, Chinese at a Glance, and Now You’re Talking Mandarin Chinese. He lives in Washington, DC.

About the Moderator:

Andrew Hsiao is the American editor of Verso Books, an independent publishing house based in London and New York. He is a founder and coordinator of CultureStrike, which involves artists and writers in the immigration movement, and a founder and producer of Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI 99.5FM. He was the executive editor of The New Press and a senior editor and staff writer for The Village Voice, and has written about politics, immigration, race, labor, media, books, film, theater, and sports for the Voice, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Spin, and other publications. As an editor he has commissioned and edited numerous books about China and Chinese America, including Challenging China by Sharon Hom and Human Rights in China, and Chinese America, by Peter Kwong and Dusanka Miscevic. He is also the author of The Verso Book of Dissent and of a deck of playing cards, Regime Change Begins at Home.

June 13, 2013 (All day)
Venue: 
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Registration available on partner site, or event occurred in the past.

Program Materials

  • The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo with Scott Seligman

    Wong Chin Foo's story of defending his fellow Chinese Americans against malicious scapegoating and urged them to become Americanized to win their rights. Recorded 6/12/2013.

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