Preserving The American Dream: NYC Museum Honors Immigration Tales

As a way to promote, preserve, and honor the legacies of Chinese Americans and their cultural influence here in New York, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) has re-opened its doors in a new location in Chinatown in Manhattan. The grand opening featured a special exhibit based on the lives of 10 different chinese immigrants who came to America  dating back to the 1930’s, an era still under the Chinese Exclusionary Act, enacted in 1882, which barred any Non-American Chinese from entering the States due to “years of escalating anti-Chinese violence in the West spurred by recessions, labor strife and a culture of white supremacy,” reported the New York Times.

The Times article spotlighted 1 of the 10 immigrants, named Tun Funn Hom, whose autobiographic immigrant tale is on display as part of the exhibit. Hom originally had entered the States as a “paper son” with false identity papers claiming he was the son of an American. At that time, many Chinese immigrants were pouring into the U.S. as “paper son’s,” often having to memorize pages of information about their false identities before being questioned by immigration officials. After the Chinese Exclusionary Act had been halted and taken out of effect in 1943, later in the 50’s Hom was able to claim his real name through a government confession program put in place after WWII. Because he had served in WWII, he was awarded citizenship within months. For most of his life in New York, Hom had worked as a laundry worker and put 3 kids through college.  Now his contribution to the American Promise is a permanent fixture at the MOCA. Quite the touching story that reveals so much about the history of New York and the legacy and enduring influence Chinese immigrants have had on America.

Tom Funn Hom at re-opening of the Museum of Chinese in America (NYTIMES)

Tom Funn Hom at re-opening of the Museum of Chinese in America (NYTIMES)

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