Portland Chinatown History Foundation Hosts First of Two “Race & Place” Events

Bertha Lee Saiget (Chinese) and Jean Matsumoto (Nikkei). Photo by Jeff Lee Photography, courtesy of Portland Chinatown History Foundation.

Old Town has been the home a diverse variety of communities since the City’s founding and is the site of the nationally recognized New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District.

Photo by Jeff Lee Photography, courtesy of Portland Chinatown History Foundation

On March 22nd, a dynamic group of Chinese American and Nikkei elders came together on at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) to share their stories of growing up and living in what is now known as Old Town.

The evening event, the first of two organized by the Portland Chinatown History Foundation, was well attended. After the elders shared their stories, the second half of the program included a dialogue between the Nikkei and Chinese elders followed by audience Q & A and discussion. The May 3rd program, the second in the series, will again include speakers from the Chinatown and Japantown communities in Old Town, focusing on the period during and after World War II.

Photo by Jeff Lee Photography, courtesy of Portland Chinatown History Foundation

During Program 2, the elders will be more direct in their descriptions of the effects of 60 years of Chinese Exclusion (a federal policy denying entry for all but the merchant and diplomatic elites and no path to citizenship for those who arrived after 1882) and of Japanese incarceration during Internment. Program 2 will also focus on the amazing resilience and strong work ethic of both groups and the path to success for many, and for their children, despite continuing racial prejudice and discrimination.
(Photos courtesy of Jeff Lee Photography and the Portland Chinatown History Foundation)