June 19th was the anniversary of the Vincent Chin incident. He was a Chinese American living in Detroit who was having a bachelor party when he was involved in an altercation with two white, recently unemployed autoworkers. Reportedly one of the autoworkers directed a racist remark at Vincent blaming him for their unemployment even though Vincent was not Japanese. This was at a time when Japanese automakers were very successful much to the dissatisfaction of many Americans.
Their altercation was broken up but later that day, the two white automakers tracked down Vincent and bashed him in the head with a baseball bat. The incident was witnessed by off duty police officers and Vincent was rushed to hospital and fell into a coma. Vincent would die days later on June 23, 1982, weeks before he was to be married. The perpetrators never served any jail time for their crime as they were sentenced to three years probation. This outraged Asian Americans of various ethnic origins and is considered the moment that really spearheaded Asian American activism.
There’s much more to the story than that and you can find more information by visiting the Vincent Who? website which has many links to various articles about Vincent Chin. You can also purchase a personal or educational DVD of the documentary Vincent Who? (see press release below) from there which some consider as a follow up to the academy award nominated documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin. There is also a book called Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People written by Helen Zia who was a journalist and activist during the Vincent Chin trials. It covers the topic of Vincent Chin as well as other significant events in Asian American history.
Asian Pacific Americans for Progress is proud to announce our first documentary film, “Vincent Who?”
*** WINNER OF THE 2009 Media Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education ***
VINCENT WHO? (40 minutes) – In 1982, Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit by two white autoworkers at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments. For the first time, Asian Americans around the country galvanized to form a real community and movement. This documentary, inspired by a series of town halls organized by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress on the 25th anniversary of the case, features interviews with the key players at the time, as well as a whole new generation of activists. “Vincent Who?” asks how far Asian Americans have come since then and how far we have yet to go.
Featured interviews include: Helen Zia (lead activist during the Chin trial), Renee Tajima Pena (director, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”), Stewart Kwoh (Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Legal Center), Lisa Ling (journalist), Sumi Pendakur (Univ. of Southern California), Dale Minami (civic rights attorney), Frank Wu (former Dean, Wayne State Law School), Doua Thor (Executive Director, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center) and a group of five diverse young APA activists whose lives were impacted by Vincent Chin.