Steven Y. Wong

Roots: Asian American Movements 1968-80s

January 19 - June 11, 2017 (extended through August 13, 2017)

Who is “Asian American”? How did we come into this shifting and expansive idea?

Contrary to popular perception, it is an identity defined out of protest. Starting in the 1960s, a group of young activists shaped “Asian America” through a long decade of fighting displacement, serving their communities, agitating for revolution, and analyzing the intersections of gender, race, and class. From Little Tokyo to Chinatown to Historic Filipinotown to the West Side, in solidarity with Latino, Black, feminist, and international struggles, Los Angeles saw the rise of vibrant artistic and political movements.

Roots: Asian American Movements in Los Angeles 1968-80s is the first exhibition to collect and present this history, arguing that the past helps give meaning to the present and future of our communities.

Photograph by Alan Ohashi. Asian Pacific American Photographic Collection, Visual Communications Archives.
The newspaper Gidra was one of the central communication branches of the Asian American Movement, printing several thousand copies per issue at its peak.  Gidra’s volunteer staff wrote about local campaigns, the legacies of internment and the Vietnam War, and media representations of Asian Americans. Gidra covers featured artwork that ranged from satirical comics on Little Tokyo’s redevelopment to U.S. militarism, to artistic representations of Hiroshima and Asian history. Gidra (Vol. III, No. 1), January 1971. Courtesy of Karen L. Ishizuka.
1971 was the Year of the Pig in the Chinese Zodiac. In this poster, Asian American activists of that time used this traditional zodiac sign to express anger at what they saw as oppressive power structures. In the late 1960s and early 70s, Asian American activists worked alongside the Black Panther movement and Third World Liberation Front organizations to radicalize, protest the Vietnam War, agitate for more recognition of people of color, fight for community self- determination -- and so much more. Poster by Leland Wong, 1971; courtesy of Jeff Chop.
Poster for solidarity with the women of Indochina for International Women's Year,1973. Courtesy of Jeff Chop.
Mike Murase at the first Asian American anti-war rally in Los Angeles, 1970. Asian Pacific American Photographic Collection, Visual Communications Archives.
Attendees of the Roots: Asian American Movements 1968-1980s opening night reception on January 19 th , 2017. Photo by Steven Wong.
A newspaper on the many year struggle to save the elderly housing and activism of International Hotel in San Francisco,1970. Courtesy of Bessie Chin and the Dylan Phoenix Collection.
Roots: Asian American Movements 1968-1980s opening night reception on January 19 th , 2017. Photo by Steven Wong.

Photograph by Alan Ohashi. Asian Pacific American Photographic Collection, Visual Communications Archives. The newspaper Gidra was one of the central communication branches of the Asian American Movement, printing several thousand copies per issue at its peak.  Gidra’s volunteer staff wrote about local campaigns, the legacies of internment and the Vietnam War, and media representations of Asian Americans. Gidra covers featured artwork that ranged from satirical comics on Little Tokyo’s redevelopment to U.S. militarism, to artistic representations of Hiroshima and Asian history. Gidra (Vol. III, No. 1), January 1971. Courtesy of Karen L. Ishizuka. 1971 was the Year of the Pig in the Chinese Zodiac. In this poster, Asian American activists of that time used this traditional zodiac sign to express anger at what they saw as oppressive power structures. In the late 1960s and early 70s, Asian American activists worked alongside the Black Panther movement and Third World Liberation Front organizations to radicalize, protest the Vietnam War, agitate for more recognition of people of color, fight for community self- determination -- and so much more. Poster by Leland Wong, 1971; courtesy of Jeff Chop. Poster for solidarity with the women of Indochina for International Women's Year,1973. Courtesy of Jeff Chop. Mike Murase at the first Asian American anti-war rally in Los Angeles, 1970. Asian Pacific American Photographic Collection, Visual Communications Archives. Attendees of the Roots: Asian American Movements 1968-1980s opening night reception on January 19 th , 2017. Photo by Steven Wong. A newspaper on the many year struggle to save the elderly housing and activism of International Hotel in San Francisco,1970. Courtesy of Bessie Chin and the Dylan Phoenix Collection. Roots: Asian American Movements 1968-1980s opening night reception on January 19 th , 2017. Photo by Steven Wong.

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