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Honoring AAPI Heritage Month, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is proud to partner with Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) for an in-depth conversation on the history of Angel Island, led by AIISF’s Executive Director Edward Tepporn. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are often the two places that come to mind when thinking about immigration to the US. Yet, many are not aware that from 1910 to 1940, a section of Angel Island (in the San Francisco Bay) was also used to process, interrogate, and detain over 500,000 immigrants who came from 80 different countries. While often referred to as the “Ellis Island of the West”, the former U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island was created to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and other immigration policies created to restrict immigration from Asia and the Pacific. Join Edward Tepporn, Executive Director for the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) and Felicia Lowe, former AIISF Board Member and descendant of an immigrant detained on Angel Island, for this presentation and discussion. AIISF is the primary nonprofit organization that has worked in partnership with California State Parks to preserve the site’s buildings and helped to secure the site’s recognition in 1997 as a National Historic Landmark.

This program includes a presentation on Angel Island, followed by a panel discussion.

Panelists:

Edward Tepporn, Executive Director of Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

Felicia Lowe, Producer/Director/Writer

Lauren Nechamkin, Director of Education at the Museum of Chinese in America

 

ABOUT Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island was the site of an US Immigration Station that functioned as the West Coast equivalent of Ellis Island, although the Angel Island facility also enforced policies designed to exclude many Pacific Coast immigrants coming from eighty countries.

In 1970, the site was slated for demolition because of its deteriorated condition; but the discovery of Chinese poetry that had been carved into the walls of the detention barracks saved it from destruction and led to renewed interest in the Angel Island Immigration Station. Most importantly, the discovery of poetry increased awareness of the need to access the vivid lessons of sacrifice and triumph in the history of immigration.

Sparked by the discovery, Paul Chow, a civil engineer with the California Department of Transportation, formed the Angel Island Immigration Station Historical Advisory Committee (AIISHAC) to save the site and its poetry, recover the history of Chinese detainees, and lobby for state support. In July 1976, AIISHAC’s hard work came to fruition as the state legislature appropriated $250,000 to restore the Immigration Station as a state monument.

The barracks opened to the public in 1983, and members of AIISHAC created the Immigration Station Foundation to continue preservation and educational efforts for the site, and to increase awareness of the contributions Pacific Coast immigrants make.

AIISF has provided vital financial support for the Immigration Station, serving as the non-profit fundraising partner for the site. Since 1994, AIISF has leveraged $40 million to develop the cultural and physical landscape of the site. Foundation members preserved the poems on the barracks walls and created a collection of oral histories from those who had come through the Station and their descendants.

 

ABOUT Edward Tepporn

Edward Tepporn is the Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. He previously served as the Executive Vice President for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. He has 26 years of nonprofit sector experience. He is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Fellow Alumnus and currently serves on the board of directors of the Western Museums Association.

 

 

ABOUT Felicia Lowe

Felicia Lowe is an award winning media producer, director, and writer with over 40 years of production experience.  Her documentaries; Chinese Couplets, Carved in Silence, Chinatown and China: Land of My Father reveal the unique experiences of Chinese in America while underscoring our common humanity.  Her documentaries have been broadcast on PBS and are included in a collection in the Library of Congress.

Recognized by the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles as a History Maker in 2022, Lowe is a past board president of the Angel Island Immigration Foundation and descendant of Angel Island detainees. She is gratified to have played a role in the restoration and preservation of this National Historic Landmark.

Date
May 31, 2024
Time
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Category
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[1] Highsmith, C. M., photographer. (2013) Interior at Angel Island Immigration Station on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, California. United States Angel Island California, 2013. May. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2013634675/

[2] Highsmith, C. M., photographer. (2013) Poetic verse carved into the wall of the detention barracks at Angel Island is an island in San Francisco Bay that offers expansive views of the San Francisco skyline, the Marin County Headlands and Mount Tamalpais. United States Angel Island California, 2013. May. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2013634664/.